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Silicon-Organic Hybrid (SOH) Mach-Zehnder Modulators for 100 Gbit/s On-Off Keying

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posted on 2023-11-30, 17:21 authored by Stefan Wolf, Heiner Zwickel, Wladislaw Hartmann, Matthias Lauermann, Yasar Kutuvantavida, Clemens Kieninger, Lars Altenhain, Rolf Schmid, Jingdong Luo, Alex K. -Y. Jen, Sebastian Randel, Wolfgang Freude, Christian Koos
Electro-optic modulators for high-speed on-off keying (OOK) are key components of short- and mediumreach interconnects in data-center networks. Besides small footprint and cost-efficient large-scale production, small drive voltages and ultra-low power consumption are of paramount importance for such devices. Here we demonstrate that the concept of silicon-organic hybrid (SOH) integration is perfectly suited for meeting these challenges. The approach combines the unique processing advantages of large-scale silicon photonics with unrivalled electro-optic (EO) coefficients obtained by molecular engineering of organic materials. In our proof-of-concept experiments, we demonstrate generation and transmission of OOK signals with line rates of up to 100 Gbit/s using a 1.1 mm-long SOH Mach-Zehnder modulator (MZM) which features a {\pi}-voltage of only 0.9 V. This experiment represents not only the first demonstration of 100 Gbit/s OOK on the silicon photonic platform, but also leads to the lowest drive voltage and energy consumption ever demonstrated at this data rate for a semiconductor-based device. We support our experimental results by a theoretical analysis and show that the nonlinear transfer characteristic of the MZM can be exploited to overcome bandwidth limitations of the modulator and of the electric driver circuitry. The devices are fabricated in a commercial silicon photonics line and can hence be combined with the full portfolio of standard silicon photonic devices. We expect that high-speed power-efficient SOH modulators may have transformative impact on short-reach optical networks, enabling compact transceivers with unprecedented energy efficiency that will be at the heart of future Ethernet interfaces at Tbit/s data rates.



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