Plasmonic modulator could lead to a new breed of electro-optic computer chips

Artist’s rendering shows an electro-optic modulator. (Virginia Commonwealth University Illustration / Nathaniel Kinsey)

News Brief: Researchers have created a miniaturized device that can transform electronic signals into optical signals with low signal loss. They say the electro-optic modulator could make it easier to merge electronic and photonic circuitry on a single chip. The hybrid technology behind the modulator, known as plasmonics, promises to rev up data processing speeds. “As with earlier advances in information technology, this can dramatically impact the way we live,” Larry Dalton, a chemistry professor emeritus at the University of Washington, said in a news release. Dalton is part of the team that reported the advance today in the journal Nature.

Christian Haffner of ETH Zurich is the principal author of the Nature paper, “Low-Loss Plasmon-Assisted Electro-Optic Modulator.” In addition to Dalton, co-authors include Daniel Chelladurai, Yuriy Fedoryshyn, Arne Josten, Benedikt Baeuerle, Wolfgang Heni, Tatsuhiko Watanabe, Tong Cui, Bojun Cheng, Soham Saha, Delwin Elder, Alexandra Boltasseva, Vladimir Shalaev, Nathaniel Kinsey and Juerg Leuthold.