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Silicon-photonic devices.

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed a practical way to introduce second-order nonlinearities into silicon photonics.

Credit: MIT News

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) demonstrated that silicon optical devices can reproduce physical phenomena used by high-end telecommunications optoelectronic components.

The components exploit second-order nonlinearities, making optical signal processing more efficient and robust.

The researchers used the new silicon-photonics method to create prototypes of a modulator and frequency doubler.

Existing silicon modulators are doped, meaning they have impurities causing free-carrier electrons to concentrate at the center of the modulator, absorbing light and diminishing the optical signal's strength. The modulator is undoped, so its free carriers help produce an electric field to modulate the optical signal much faster than existing silicon modulators. Prototypes of this modulator have recorded speeds competitive with those of the nonlinear modulators found in telecom networks.

"Applying a simple electric field creates the same basic crystal polarization vector that other researchers have worked hard to create by far more complicated means," says IBM Research's Jason Orcutt.

From MIT News
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