Abstract

We propose the use of graphene as the electrode heater material for a polymer waveguide thermo-optic (TO) device. Because a graphene electrode can be buried in a polymer waveguide without introducing a significant loss to the transverse magnetic polarized light, we can do away with the buffer layer that is required in a conventional TO device to isolate the metal electrode heater from the waveguide and, hence, reduce the driving electric power of the device. To demonstrate the principle, we fabricate and compare two polymer waveguide TO mode switches based on the configuration of a balanced Mach–Zehnder interferometer, which are identical except that one uses a buried graphene electrode and the other uses an aluminum electrode deposited on the waveguide surface. Our experimental device that uses a graphene electrode has a switching power almost four times lower and also responds faster. The use of buried graphene electrodes is an effective approach to reducing the power consumption of TO devices.

© 2019 Optical Society of America

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