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Compact lithium niobate plasmonic modulator

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Lithium niobate (LN)-based modulators offer superior modulation performances, including high-speed modulation, linearity, and temperature stability. However, these devices exhibit larger sizes due to the low light–matter interaction despite a significant electro-optic coefficient. In this work, we present a compact LN-based modulator using a plasmonic mode that confines the optical mode in a very narrow gap. By filling the gap with LN, the confinement factor in the LN is significantly enhanced. The proposed modulator provides an extremely small half-wave voltage–length product, VπL of 0.02 V/cm at an optical communication wavelength (λ = 1.55 µm). The proposed modulator scheme can be utilized in a wide range of optical communication devices that demand small footprints and a high-speed operation.

© 2024 Optica Publishing Group

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Data availability

Data underlying the results presented in this paper are not publicly available at this time but may be obtained from the authors upon reasonable request.

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Figures (5)

Fig. 1.
Fig. 1. Cross section of a plasmonic x-cut LN modulator. hLN is the height of LN and wLN is the width of LN in the gap.
Fig. 2.
Fig. 2. Simulated (a) RF and (b) optical mode profiles of the plasmonic modulator.
Fig. 3.
Fig. 3. LN confinement factor for the LN-filled plasmonic modulator (red line) and the SiO2-filled plasmonic LN modulator (blue line) as a function of (a) LN height (hLN) and (b) LN width (wLN)
Fig. 4.
Fig. 4. VπL and the propagation loss of the LN-filled modulator as a function of (a) LN width and (b) LN height. Red and blue curves represent the VπL and the propagation loss, respectively.
Fig. 5.
Fig. 5. VπL and the propagation loss of the LN plasmonic modulator with nonvertical sidewall as a function of wtLN. LN in the gap is shaped as a trapezoid, where wtLN is the top LN width and α is the angle of the sidewall. The inset illustrates the cross section of the plasmonic modulator with a nonvertical sidewall.
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