Graphene-based optical modulators poised to break speed limits in digital communications

Mar 01, 2012

In yet another astounding application of the "wonder material" graphene, scientists at the University of California, Berkeley discovered that it makes an excellent active media for optical modulators. Graphene-based modulators are expected to significantly enhance ultrafast optical communication and computing. team will report on their findings at the Optical Fiber Communication Conference and Exhibition/National Fiber Optic Engineers Conference (OFC/NFOEC) taking place next week in Los Angeles.

Modulators play a vital role in communications due to their switching ability, because this is what controls the speed that can travel through networks. As the speed of data pulses sent out increases, it means that greater volumes of information can be transmitted.

"We demonstrated a graphene-based with a broad optical bandwidth (1.35-1.6 µm), a small device footprint (25 µm2), and high operational speed (1.2 GHz at 3dB) under ambient conditions—all of which are essential for optical interconnects for future integrated optoelectronic systems," says Ming Liu, a post-doctoral researcher working at UC Berkeley's NSF Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center. "The modulation efficiency of a single layer of a hexagonal carbon atom is already comparable to, if not better than, traditional semiconductor materials, which are orders of magnitude larger in active volume."

Looking into future applications, graphene-based modulators could be very compact and potentially perform at speeds up to 10 times faster than today's technology allows. They may someday enable consumers to stream full-length, high-definition, 3-D movies onto their smartphones within mere seconds.

Explore further: Mirror-image forms of corannulene molecules could lead to exciting new possibilities in nanotechnology

More information: Liu's talk, "Graphene-based optical modulators," takes place Tuesday, March 6 at 3:30 p.m. in the Los Angeles Convention Center.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Tiny graphene drum could form future quantum memory

Aug 28, 2014

Scientists from TU Delft's Kavli Institute of Nanoscience have demonstrated that they can detect extremely small changes in position and forces on very small drums of graphene. Graphene drums have great potential ...

Graphene reinvents the future

Aug 27, 2014

For many scientists, the discovery of one-atom-thick sheets of graphene is hugely significant, something with the potential to affect just about every aspect of human activity and endeavour.

User comments : 0