Abstract

Since the emergence of optical fiber communications, lithium niobate (LN) has been the material of choice for electro-optic modulators, featuring high data bandwidth and excellent signal fidelity. Conventional LN modulators however are bulky, expensive and power hungry, and cannot meet the growing demand in modern optical data links. Chip-scale, highly integrated, LN modulators could offer solutions to this problem, yet the fabrication of low-loss devices in LN thin films has been challenging. Here we overcome this hurdle and demonstrate monolithically integrated LN electro-optic modulators that are significantly smaller and more efficient than traditional bulk LN devices, while preserving LN’s excellent material properties. Our compact LN electro-optic platform consists of low-loss nanoscale LN waveguides, micro-ring resonators and miniaturized Mach-Zehnder interferometers, fabricated by directly shaping LN thin films into sub-wavelength structures. The efficient confinement of both optical and microwave fields at the nanoscale dramatically improves the device performances featuring a half-wave electro-optic modulation efficiency of 1.8 V∙cm while operating at data rates up to 40 Gbps. Our monolithic LN nanophotonic platform enables dense integration of high-performance active components, opening new avenues for future high-speed, low power and cost-effective communication networks.

© 2018 Optical Society of America under the terms of the OSA Open Access Publishing Agreement

Full Article  |  PDF Article
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2017 (5)

2016 (6)

2015 (5)

A. Rao, A. Patil, J. Chiles, M. Malinowski, S. Novak, K. Richardson, P. Rabiei, and S. Fathpour, “Heterogeneous microring and Mach-Zehnder modulators based on lithium niobate and chalcogenide glasses on silicon,” Opt. Express 23(17), 22746–22752 (2015).
[Crossref] [PubMed]

J. Wang, F. Bo, S. Wan, W. Li, F. Gao, J. Li, G. Zhang, and J. Xu, “High-Q lithium niobate microdisk resonators on a chip for efficient electro-optic modulation,” Opt. Express 23(18), 23072–23078 (2015).
[Crossref] [PubMed]

C. Haffner, W. Heni, Y. Fedoryshyn, J. Niegemann, A. Melikyan, D. L. Elder, B. Baeuerle, Y. Salamin, A. Josten, U. Koch, C. Hoessbacher, F. Ducry, L. Juchli, A. Emboras, D. Hillerkuss, M. Kohl, L. R. Dalton, C. Hafner, and J. Leuthold, “All-plasmonic Mach–Zehnder modulator enabling optical high-speed communication at the microscale,” Nat. Photonics 9(8), 525–528 (2015).
[Crossref]

C. T. Phare, Y.-H. Daniel Lee, J. Cardenas, and M. Lipson, “Graphene electro-optic modulator with 30 GHz bandwidth,” Nat. Photonics 9(8), 511–514 (2015).
[Crossref]

C. Sun, M. T. Wade, Y. Lee, J. S. Orcutt, L. Alloatti, M. S. Georgas, A. S. Waterman, J. M. Shainline, R. R. Avizienis, S. Lin, B. R. Moss, R. Kumar, F. Pavanello, A. H. Atabaki, H. M. Cook, A. J. Ou, J. C. Leu, Y.-H. Chen, K. Asanović, R. J. Ram, M. A. Popović, and V. M. Stojanović, “Single-chip microprocessor that communicates directly using light,” Nature 528(7583), 534–538 (2015).
[Crossref] [PubMed]

2014 (3)

2013 (1)

2012 (3)

G. Poberaj, H. Hu, W. Sohler, and P. Günter, “Lithium niobate on insulator (LNOI) for micro-photonic devices,” Laser Photonics Rev. 6(4), 488–503 (2012).
[Crossref]

C. Xiong, W. H. P. Pernice, X. Sun, C. Schuck, K. Y. Fong, and H. X. Tang, “Aluminum nitride as a new material for chip-scale optomechanics and nonlinear optics,” New J. Phys. 14(9), 095014 (2012).
[Crossref]

K. S. Novoselov, V. I. Falko, L. Colombo, P. R. Gellert, M. G. Schwab, and K. Kim, “A roadmap for graphene,” Nature 490(7419), 192–200 (2012).
[Crossref] [PubMed]

2011 (1)

M. Liu, X. Yin, E. Ulin-Avila, B. Geng, T. Zentgraf, L. Ju, F. Wang, and X. Zhang, “A graphene-based broadband optical modulator,” Nature 474(7349), 64–67 (2011).
[Crossref] [PubMed]

2010 (2)

J. Clark and G. Lanzani, “Organic photonics for communications,” Nat. Photonics 4(7), 438–446 (2010).
[Crossref]

G. T. Reed, G. Mashanovich, F. Y. Gardes, and D. J. Thomson, “Silicon optical modulators,” Nat. Photonics 4(8), 518–526 (2010).
[Crossref]

2009 (1)

D. Janner, D. Tulli, M. García-Granda, M. Belmonte, and V. Pruneri, “Micro-structured integrated electro-optic LiNbO3 modulators,” Laser Photonics Rev. 3(3), 301–313 (2009).
[Crossref]

2007 (1)

A. Guarino, G. Poberaj, D. Rezzonico, R. Degl’Innocenti, and P. Günter, “Electro-optically tunable microring resonators in lithium niobate,” Nat. Photonics 1(7), 407–410 (2007).
[Crossref]

2005 (1)

Q. Xu, B. Schmidt, S. Pradhan, and M. Lipson, “Micrometre-scale silicon electro-optic modulator,” Nature 435(7040), 325–327 (2005).
[Crossref] [PubMed]

2004 (1)

V. S. Ilchenko, A. A. Savchenkov, A. B. Matsko, and L. Maleki, “Nonlinear Optics and Crystalline Whispering Gallery Mode Cavities,” Phys. Rev. Lett. 92(4), 043903 (2004).
[Crossref] [PubMed]

2002 (1)

M. Lee, H. E. Katz, C. Erben, D. M. Gill, P. Gopalan, J. D. Heber, and D. J. McGee, “Broadband modulation of light by using an electro-optic polymer,” Science 298(5597), 1401–1403 (2002).
[Crossref] [PubMed]

2000 (1)

E. L. Wooten, K. M. Kissa, A. Yi-Yan, E. J. Murphy, D. A. Lafaw, P. F. Hallemeier, D. Maack, D. V. Attanasio, D. J. Fritz, G. J. McBrien, and D. E. Bossi, “A review of lithium niobate modulators for fiber-optic communications systems,” IEEE J. Sel. Top. Quantum Electron. 6(1), 69–82 (2000).
[Crossref]

1993 (2)

M. Aoki, M. Suzuki, H. Sano, T. Kawano, T. Ido, T. Taniwatari, K. Uomi, and A. Takai, “InGaAs/InGaAsP MQW electroabsorption modulator integrated with a DFB laser fabricated by band-gap energy control selective area MOCVD,” IEEE J. Quantum Electron. 29(6), 2088–2096 (1993).
[Crossref]

C. Rolland, R. S. Moore, F. Shepherd, and G. Hillier, “10 Gbit/s, 1.56 mu m multiquantum well InP/InGaAsP Mach-Zehnder optical modulator,” Electron. Lett. 29(5), 471–472 (1993).
[Crossref]

1974 (1)

R. V. Schmidt and I. P. Kaminow, “Metal-diffused optical waveguides in LiNbO3,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 25(8), 458–460 (1974).
[Crossref]

Alloatti, L.

C. Sun, M. T. Wade, Y. Lee, J. S. Orcutt, L. Alloatti, M. S. Georgas, A. S. Waterman, J. M. Shainline, R. R. Avizienis, S. Lin, B. R. Moss, R. Kumar, F. Pavanello, A. H. Atabaki, H. M. Cook, A. J. Ou, J. C. Leu, Y.-H. Chen, K. Asanović, R. J. Ram, M. A. Popović, and V. M. Stojanović, “Single-chip microprocessor that communicates directly using light,” Nature 528(7583), 534–538 (2015).
[Crossref] [PubMed]

Andrade, N.

Aoki, M.

M. Aoki, M. Suzuki, H. Sano, T. Kawano, T. Ido, T. Taniwatari, K. Uomi, and A. Takai, “InGaAs/InGaAsP MQW electroabsorption modulator integrated with a DFB laser fabricated by band-gap energy control selective area MOCVD,” IEEE J. Quantum Electron. 29(6), 2088–2096 (1993).
[Crossref]

Asanovic, K.

C. Sun, M. T. Wade, Y. Lee, J. S. Orcutt, L. Alloatti, M. S. Georgas, A. S. Waterman, J. M. Shainline, R. R. Avizienis, S. Lin, B. R. Moss, R. Kumar, F. Pavanello, A. H. Atabaki, H. M. Cook, A. J. Ou, J. C. Leu, Y.-H. Chen, K. Asanović, R. J. Ram, M. A. Popović, and V. M. Stojanović, “Single-chip microprocessor that communicates directly using light,” Nature 528(7583), 534–538 (2015).
[Crossref] [PubMed]

Atabaki, A. H.

C. Sun, M. T. Wade, Y. Lee, J. S. Orcutt, L. Alloatti, M. S. Georgas, A. S. Waterman, J. M. Shainline, R. R. Avizienis, S. Lin, B. R. Moss, R. Kumar, F. Pavanello, A. H. Atabaki, H. M. Cook, A. J. Ou, J. C. Leu, Y.-H. Chen, K. Asanović, R. J. Ram, M. A. Popović, and V. M. Stojanović, “Single-chip microprocessor that communicates directly using light,” Nature 528(7583), 534–538 (2015).
[Crossref] [PubMed]

Atikian, H. A.

Attanasio, D. V.

E. L. Wooten, K. M. Kissa, A. Yi-Yan, E. J. Murphy, D. A. Lafaw, P. F. Hallemeier, D. Maack, D. V. Attanasio, D. J. Fritz, G. J. McBrien, and D. E. Bossi, “A review of lithium niobate modulators for fiber-optic communications systems,” IEEE J. Sel. Top. Quantum Electron. 6(1), 69–82 (2000).
[Crossref]

Avizienis, R. R.

C. Sun, M. T. Wade, Y. Lee, J. S. Orcutt, L. Alloatti, M. S. Georgas, A. S. Waterman, J. M. Shainline, R. R. Avizienis, S. Lin, B. R. Moss, R. Kumar, F. Pavanello, A. H. Atabaki, H. M. Cook, A. J. Ou, J. C. Leu, Y.-H. Chen, K. Asanović, R. J. Ram, M. A. Popović, and V. M. Stojanović, “Single-chip microprocessor that communicates directly using light,” Nature 528(7583), 534–538 (2015).
[Crossref] [PubMed]

Baeuerle, B.

C. Haffner, W. Heni, Y. Fedoryshyn, J. Niegemann, A. Melikyan, D. L. Elder, B. Baeuerle, Y. Salamin, A. Josten, U. Koch, C. Hoessbacher, F. Ducry, L. Juchli, A. Emboras, D. Hillerkuss, M. Kohl, L. R. Dalton, C. Hafner, and J. Leuthold, “All-plasmonic Mach–Zehnder modulator enabling optical high-speed communication at the microscale,” Nat. Photonics 9(8), 525–528 (2015).
[Crossref]

Belmonte, M.

D. Janner, D. Tulli, M. García-Granda, M. Belmonte, and V. Pruneri, “Micro-structured integrated electro-optic LiNbO3 modulators,” Laser Photonics Rev. 3(3), 301–313 (2009).
[Crossref]

Biberman, A.

E. Timurdogan, C. M. Sorace-Agaskar, J. Sun, E. Shah Hosseini, A. Biberman, and M. R. Watts, “An ultralow power athermal silicon modulator,” Nat. Commun. 5, 4008 (2014).
[Crossref] [PubMed]

Bo, F.

Bossi, D. E.

E. L. Wooten, K. M. Kissa, A. Yi-Yan, E. J. Murphy, D. A. Lafaw, P. F. Hallemeier, D. Maack, D. V. Attanasio, D. J. Fritz, G. J. McBrien, and D. E. Bossi, “A review of lithium niobate modulators for fiber-optic communications systems,” IEEE J. Sel. Top. Quantum Electron. 6(1), 69–82 (2000).
[Crossref]

Bowers, J. E.

Burek, M. J.

Cai, L.

Cardenas, J.

C. T. Phare, Y.-H. Daniel Lee, J. Cardenas, and M. Lipson, “Graphene electro-optic modulator with 30 GHz bandwidth,” Nat. Photonics 9(8), 511–514 (2015).
[Crossref]

Chang, L.

Chen, L.

Chen, Y.-H.

C. Sun, M. T. Wade, Y. Lee, J. S. Orcutt, L. Alloatti, M. S. Georgas, A. S. Waterman, J. M. Shainline, R. R. Avizienis, S. Lin, B. R. Moss, R. Kumar, F. Pavanello, A. H. Atabaki, H. M. Cook, A. J. Ou, J. C. Leu, Y.-H. Chen, K. Asanović, R. J. Ram, M. A. Popović, and V. M. Stojanović, “Single-chip microprocessor that communicates directly using light,” Nature 528(7583), 534–538 (2015).
[Crossref] [PubMed]

Cheng, R.

Cheng, Y.

Chiles, J.

Chu, W.

Clark, J.

J. Clark and G. Lanzani, “Organic photonics for communications,” Nat. Photonics 4(7), 438–446 (2010).
[Crossref]

Colombo, L.

K. S. Novoselov, V. I. Falko, L. Colombo, P. R. Gellert, M. G. Schwab, and K. Kim, “A roadmap for graphene,” Nature 490(7419), 192–200 (2012).
[Crossref] [PubMed]

Cook, H. M.

C. Sun, M. T. Wade, Y. Lee, J. S. Orcutt, L. Alloatti, M. S. Georgas, A. S. Waterman, J. M. Shainline, R. R. Avizienis, S. Lin, B. R. Moss, R. Kumar, F. Pavanello, A. H. Atabaki, H. M. Cook, A. J. Ou, J. C. Leu, Y.-H. Chen, K. Asanović, R. J. Ram, M. A. Popović, and V. M. Stojanović, “Single-chip microprocessor that communicates directly using light,” Nature 528(7583), 534–538 (2015).
[Crossref] [PubMed]

Dalton, L. R.

C. Haffner, W. Heni, Y. Fedoryshyn, J. Niegemann, A. Melikyan, D. L. Elder, B. Baeuerle, Y. Salamin, A. Josten, U. Koch, C. Hoessbacher, F. Ducry, L. Juchli, A. Emboras, D. Hillerkuss, M. Kohl, L. R. Dalton, C. Hafner, and J. Leuthold, “All-plasmonic Mach–Zehnder modulator enabling optical high-speed communication at the microscale,” Nat. Photonics 9(8), 525–528 (2015).
[Crossref]

Daniel Lee, Y.-H.

C. T. Phare, Y.-H. Daniel Lee, J. Cardenas, and M. Lipson, “Graphene electro-optic modulator with 30 GHz bandwidth,” Nat. Photonics 9(8), 511–514 (2015).
[Crossref]

Degl’Innocenti, R.

A. Guarino, G. Poberaj, D. Rezzonico, R. Degl’Innocenti, and P. Günter, “Electro-optically tunable microring resonators in lithium niobate,” Nat. Photonics 1(7), 407–410 (2007).
[Crossref]

DeSalvo, R.

Ducry, F.

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E. Timurdogan, C. M. Sorace-Agaskar, J. Sun, E. Shah Hosseini, A. Biberman, and M. R. Watts, “An ultralow power athermal silicon modulator,” Nat. Commun. 5, 4008 (2014).
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D. Janner, D. Tulli, M. García-Granda, M. Belmonte, and V. Pruneri, “Micro-structured integrated electro-optic LiNbO3 modulators,” Laser Photonics Rev. 3(3), 301–313 (2009).
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Zhang, C.

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S. Jin, L. Xu, H. Zhang, and Y. Li, “LiNbO3 thin-film modulators using silicon nitride surface ridge waveguides,” IEEE Photonics Technol. Lett. 28(7), 736–739 (2016).
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Appl. Phys. Lett. (1)

R. V. Schmidt and I. P. Kaminow, “Metal-diffused optical waveguides in LiNbO3,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 25(8), 458–460 (1974).
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Electron. Lett. (1)

C. Rolland, R. S. Moore, F. Shepherd, and G. Hillier, “10 Gbit/s, 1.56 mu m multiquantum well InP/InGaAsP Mach-Zehnder optical modulator,” Electron. Lett. 29(5), 471–472 (1993).
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IEEE J. Quantum Electron. (1)

M. Aoki, M. Suzuki, H. Sano, T. Kawano, T. Ido, T. Taniwatari, K. Uomi, and A. Takai, “InGaAs/InGaAsP MQW electroabsorption modulator integrated with a DFB laser fabricated by band-gap energy control selective area MOCVD,” IEEE J. Quantum Electron. 29(6), 2088–2096 (1993).
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IEEE J. Sel. Top. Quantum Electron. (1)

E. L. Wooten, K. M. Kissa, A. Yi-Yan, E. J. Murphy, D. A. Lafaw, P. F. Hallemeier, D. Maack, D. V. Attanasio, D. J. Fritz, G. J. McBrien, and D. E. Bossi, “A review of lithium niobate modulators for fiber-optic communications systems,” IEEE J. Sel. Top. Quantum Electron. 6(1), 69–82 (2000).
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IEEE Photonics Technol. Lett. (1)

S. Jin, L. Xu, H. Zhang, and Y. Li, “LiNbO3 thin-film modulators using silicon nitride surface ridge waveguides,” IEEE Photonics Technol. Lett. 28(7), 736–739 (2016).
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Laser Photonics Rev. (2)

G. Poberaj, H. Hu, W. Sohler, and P. Günter, “Lithium niobate on insulator (LNOI) for micro-photonic devices,” Laser Photonics Rev. 6(4), 488–503 (2012).
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Nat. Commun. (1)

E. Timurdogan, C. M. Sorace-Agaskar, J. Sun, E. Shah Hosseini, A. Biberman, and M. R. Watts, “An ultralow power athermal silicon modulator,” Nat. Commun. 5, 4008 (2014).
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Nat. Photonics (5)

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C. T. Phare, Y.-H. Daniel Lee, J. Cardenas, and M. Lipson, “Graphene electro-optic modulator with 30 GHz bandwidth,” Nat. Photonics 9(8), 511–514 (2015).
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G. T. Reed, G. Mashanovich, F. Y. Gardes, and D. J. Thomson, “Silicon optical modulators,” Nat. Photonics 4(8), 518–526 (2010).
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Nature (4)

M. Liu, X. Yin, E. Ulin-Avila, B. Geng, T. Zentgraf, L. Ju, F. Wang, and X. Zhang, “A graphene-based broadband optical modulator,” Nature 474(7349), 64–67 (2011).
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K. S. Novoselov, V. I. Falko, L. Colombo, P. R. Gellert, M. G. Schwab, and K. Kim, “A roadmap for graphene,” Nature 490(7419), 192–200 (2012).
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C. Sun, M. T. Wade, Y. Lee, J. S. Orcutt, L. Alloatti, M. S. Georgas, A. S. Waterman, J. M. Shainline, R. R. Avizienis, S. Lin, B. R. Moss, R. Kumar, F. Pavanello, A. H. Atabaki, H. M. Cook, A. J. Ou, J. C. Leu, Y.-H. Chen, K. Asanović, R. J. Ram, M. A. Popović, and V. M. Stojanović, “Single-chip microprocessor that communicates directly using light,” Nature 528(7583), 534–538 (2015).
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Q. Xu, B. Schmidt, S. Pradhan, and M. Lipson, “Micrometre-scale silicon electro-optic modulator,” Nature 435(7040), 325–327 (2005).
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New J. Phys. (1)

C. Xiong, W. H. P. Pernice, X. Sun, C. Schuck, K. Y. Fong, and H. X. Tang, “Aluminum nitride as a new material for chip-scale optomechanics and nonlinear optics,” New J. Phys. 14(9), 095014 (2012).
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Opt. Express (9)

R. Luo, H. Jiang, S. Rogers, H. Liang, Y. He, and Q. Lin, “On-chip second-harmonic generation and broadband parametric down-conversion in a lithium niobate microresonator,” Opt. Express 25(20), 24531–24539 (2017).
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L. Chen, M. G. Wood, and R. M. Reano, “12.5 pm/V hybrid silicon and lithium niobate optical microring resonator with integrated electrodes,” Opt. Express 21(22), 27003–27010 (2013).
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Phys. Rev. Lett. (1)

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N. Kikuchi, E. Yamada, Y. Shibata, and H. Ishii, “High-Speed InP-Based Mach-Zehnder Modulator for Advanced Modulation Formats,” in 2012 IEEE Compound Semiconductor Integrated Circuit Symposium (CSICS, 2012), pp. 1–4.
[Crossref]

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Figures (4)

Fig. 1
Fig. 1 Device design and fabrication. (a) Schematics of a traditional ion-diffused LN waveguide (left) and our etched LN waveguide embedded in SiO2 (right), roughly to scale. The light blue region indicates the waveguiding core in each circumstance. The larger index contrast in etched waveguides allows for much stronger light confinement. (b) Schematic view of the device layout with thin film LN waveguides and RF electrodes. Metal vias and bridges are fabricated to achieve modulation on both arms of the devices. Inset shows a schematic of the device cross-section with an overview of the metal bridge. (c) Device fabrication process. (i) An x-cut LNOI substrate is (ii) coated with 800 nm thick a-Si using PECVD. Photonic patterns are defined in HSQ resist using EBL. (iii) The patterns are then transferred into the a-Si layer using RIE, and subsequently into the LN thin film using Ar+ plasma etching in RIE. (iv) The residue mask materials are removed in 30% KOH at 80 °C. (v) Bottom metal electrodes (15 nm Ti/300 nm Au, evaporated) are formed using a standard PMMA/MMA double layer lift-off process. (vi) A 1.5 μm thick silica cladding layer is then deposited using PECVD. (vii) Via windows are opened in PMMA resist (patterned using EBL). Vias are formed by 5 min wet etching in BOE. (viii) A second lift-off process is performed to produce the top electrodes.
Fig. 2
Fig. 2 Fabricated optical devices and electrical contacts. (a-b) False-color scanning electron microscope (SEM) images of the fabricated racetrack and ring resonator based modulators (a) and Mach-Zehnder interferometer based modulators (b). (c) Close-up SEM image of the coupling region of the racetrack resonator. (d) Close-up SEM image of the metal electrodes and the optical waveguide. (e) Cross-section view of the simulated optical TE mode profile (Ez component) and RF electrical field (shown by arrows). The x-cut LN used here is most sensitive to the horizontal component of the electric field (Ez). h: LN waveguide height; w: LN waveguide width; s: LN slab thickness; g: metal electrode gap.
Fig. 3
Fig. 3 DC electrical and optical characterization. (a) Measured transmission spectra of a high Q (~50,000) racetrack resonator exhibits large frequency shift with applied DC voltage. (B) Linear resonant wavelength shift as a function of DC voltage. The measured tuning efficiency is 7.0 pm/V. Error bars show the uncertainty in determining the resonance positions. (C) Optical transmission of a 2 mm long MZI modulator versus DC voltage applied, indicating a half-wave voltage (Vπ) of 9 V and a voltage-length product of 1.8 V∙cm.
Fig. 4
Fig. 4 Bandwidth and high-speed data operation. (a) Detailed high-speed measurement setup. VNA and PD (40 GHz) are used for electro-optic bandwidth test. PRBS, RF amplifier and optical sampling scope (with a 30 GHz optical module) are used to obtain the eye diagrams. (b-c) Electro-optic bandwidths (S21 parameter) of a race-track resonator with Q of 8,000 (b) and a 2 mm long MZI (c). The corresponding 3 dB bandwidths are 30 GHz and 15 GHz respectively. The measurements have been calibrated to exclude the RF cable losses. Insets show the electrical return loss measurement (S11 parameter) for both schemes. The measured RC bandwidth limits (> 30 GHz for racetrack and ~15 GHz for MZI) agree well with the electro-optic bandwidth measurement results. (d) Eye diagrams of the racetrack (blue) and MZI (purple) modulator with data rates up to 40 Gbps and 22 Gbps. All eye diagrams are measured with 27-1 PRBS in a non-return-to-zero scheme with a 5.66 Vpp electrical drive. (e) Eye diagrams of the MZI modulator at 12.5 Gbps and 22 Gbps with the device heated up by 20°C. The extinction ratios in (d) and (e) are 3 dB and 8 dB for racetrack resonator and MZI respectively. BPF, band-pass filter; DUT, device under test; EDFA, erbium doped fiber amplifier; FPC, fiber polarization controller; PD, photodiode; PRBS, pseudo-random binary sequence source; VNA, vector network analyzer.

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