Hamed Dalir, Farzad Mokhtari-Koushyar, Iman Zand, Elham Heidari, Xiaochuan Xu, Zeyu Pan, Shuai Sun, Rubab Amin, Volker J. Sorger, Ray T. Chen
March 23, 2018
In atomic multi-level systems, adiabatic elimination (AE) is a method used to minimize complicity of the system by eliminating irrelevant and strongly coupled levels by detuning them from one another. Such a three-level system, for instance, can be mapped onto physically in the form of a three-waveguide system. Actively detuning the coupling strength between the respective waveguide modes allows modulating light to propagate through the device, as proposed here. The outer waveguides act as an effective two-photonic-mode system similar to ground and excited states of a three-level atomic system, while the center waveguide is partially plasmonic. In AE regime, the amplitude of the middle waveguide oscillates much faster when compared to the outer waveguides leading to a vanishing field build up. As a result, the plasmonic intermediate waveguide becomes a “dark state,” hence nearly zero decibel insertion loss is expected with modulation depth (extinction ratio) exceeding 25 dB. Here, the modulation mechanism relies on switching this waveguide system from a critical coupling regime to AE condition via electrostatically tuning the free-carrier concentration and hence the optical index of a thin indium thin oxide (ITO) layer resides in the plasmonic center waveguide. This alters the effective coupling length and the phase mismatching condition thus modulating in each of its outer waveguides. Our results also promise a power consumption as low as 49.74aJ/bit. Besides, we expected a modulation speed of 160 GHz reaching to millimeter wave range applications. Such anticipated performance is a direct result of both the unity-strong tunability of the plasmonic optical mode in conjunction with utilizing ultra-sensitive modal coupling between the critically coupled and the AE regimes. When taken together, this new class of modulators paves the way for next generation both for energy and speed conscience optical short-reach communication such as those found in interconnects.