Nanoscale Optical Modulators: Performance Metrics

Hosted By: Optical Material Studies Technical Group

4 April 2019, 13:00 - 14:00

Download Presentation Slides

Optical modulators are the key components of every photonic system and, as is the case with any other component, there is a strong demand to reduce size, insertion loss and power consumption of the modulators while maintaining high speed and good modulation depth. While Si-based modulators are improving, their performance still does not match that of III-V modulators based on Quantum Confined Stark Effect (QCSE). That is why an effort is underway to develop novel compact Si-compatible modulators based on ITO, graphene, or other 2-dimensional materials, usually involving elements of plasmonics.

In this webinar hosted by the OSA Optical Material Studies Technical Group, Dr. Jacob Khurgin of Johns Hopkins University will present a comparative analysis of the performance of all nanoscale modulators and show that the most fundamental figure of merit – the product of switching energy and latency depends on only one parameter – the ratio of the effective waveguide area to the differential absorption cross-section of the material. Furthermore, for all the schemes that do not rely on free carriers the differential absorption cross-sections are all roughly comparable, hence the only two paths towards performance improvement are either simply reducing the area of the waveguide or employing resonant structures such as microresonators. Both of these strategies however increase the insertion loss hence a number of trade-offs must be made in designing the modulator for each particular application.

What You Will Learn:

  • Principles of specific features of electro-optic and electro-absorption modulators
  • Distinction between voltage-driven and current-driven modulators
  • Main figure of merit for ll modulating media
  • Common features of all modulators and small distinctions between them
  • Strategies for optimizing modulator performance for a given task

Who Should Attend:

  • Students (senior undergraduates and graduate)
  • Postdocs
  • Engineers
  • Researchers


Dr. Jacob B. Khurgin, Johns Hopkins University

Jacob B. Khurgin graduated with MS in Optics from the Institute of Fine Mechanics and Optics in St Petersburg, Russia in 1979. He then immigrated to the US and began working with Philips Laboratories in New York. For 8 years, he worked on miniature solid-state lasers, II-VI semiconductor lasers, various display and lighting fixtures, X-ray imaging, and small appliances. Simultaneously he pursued his graduate studies at Polytechnic Institute of NY, receiving a PhD in Electro-physics in 1987. In 1988 he joined the Electrical and Computer Engineering Dept. of Johns Hopkins University, where he is currently a Professor. He is working in the areas of mid-infrared frequency combs, silicon RF photonics, laser refrigeration, non-reciprocal light propagation and bio-detection. His publications include 8 book chapters, one book edited, 300+ papers in refereed journals and 36 patents. Prof. Khurgin is a Fellow of American Physical Society and The Optical Society.