Key elements of our communication infrastructure are electro-optic modulators that encode electrical signals onto light. The ETH spin-off Polariton Technologies has developed a ground-breaking new modulator technology that outperforms conventional devices.
Rather than relying on conventional optics, the modulator of Polariton Technologies works with plasmonics. Plasmonics take advantage of the coupling of light to electrons at a metal surface (Surface Plasmon Polaritons SPPs). This way light is confined below the diffraction limit, thus offering significantly smaller device sizes and higher speeds than conventional solutions. These plasmonic modulators demonstrated to be more than 10 times faster than current photonic modulators (500 GHz world record in the lab). The modulators are 100 times more compact, more energy-efficient, and cheaper in production.
This article was first published by the ETH Zurich.