Nanophotonic modulators and photodetectors are key building blocks for high-speed optical interconnects in datacom and telecom networks. Besides power efficiency and high electro-optic bandwidth, ultra-compact footprint and scalable co-integration with electronic circuitry are indispensable for highly scalable communication systems. In this paper, we give an overview on our recent progress in exploring nanophotonic modulators and photodetectors that combine the specific strengths of silicon photonic and plasmonic device concepts with hybrid integration approaches. Our work comprises electro-optic modulators that exploit silicon-organic hybrid (SOH) and plasmonic-organic hybrid (POH) integration to enable unprecedented energy efficiency and transmission speed, as well as waveguide-based plasmonic internal photo-emission detectors (PIPED) with record-high sensitivities and bandwidths.
We demonstrate silicon-organic hybrid (SOH) modulators for generating advanced modulation formats at high data rates and with low energy consumption. SOH integration combines slot waveguides on conventional silicon-on-insulator substrates with highly efficient electro-optic materials. With this approach we generate 16QAM signals at symbol rates of 28 GBd and 40 GBd leading to gross data rates (net data rates) of up to 160 Gbit/s (133 Gbit/s) for a single polarization. This is the highest value achieved by a silicon-based modulator up to now. With a maximum symbol rate of 28 GBd, low drive voltages of only 0.6 Vpp are sufficient and result in a record-low energy consumption of only 19 fJ/bit. This is the lowest energy consumption that has so far been reported for a 16QAM modulator at 28 GBd.