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Press release slow-light modulator

Demonstration of 40Gbit/s slow light-enhanced optical modulator

The HELIOS European Project team reaches new heights by demonstrating high speed slow light-enhanced electro-optical modulators

GRENOBLE, France – February 21st, 2012 – CEA-Leti, coordinator of the European HELIOS project to accelerate commercialization of silicon photonics, unveiled a 40Gbit/s optical modulator in silicon with a record extinction ratio of 10dB developed by the HELIOS Project members. In an effort to push forward this state-of-the art technique, an ultra-high speed optical modulator enhanced via “slow light” propagation has now been demonstrated. Slow light propagation is referred to when light travels significantly slower in a modulator than it does through air or in a vacuum.

The attractive properties of slow light propagation in a nanostructured 1D periodic waveguide, together with a high speed semiconductor pn diode were exploited to demonstrate a highly efficient 500 µm-long silicon electro-optical modulator device, exhibiting modulation rate capabilities reaching 40 Gbit/s. Furthermore, using a dual-drive modulation scheme would enable the integration of the developed optical modulator with electronic BiCMOS logic circuitry. These results are a major breakthrough in the field and offer a unique opportunity to bridge the mismatch in size and power requirements between advanced CMOS-electronics and current silicon optical modulators.

The 325 square micron device, built in a CMOS-compatible process by the CEA-Leti, coordinator of the HELIOS Project, is the result of a close collaboration between the Valencia Nanophotonics Technology Center at Universitat Politecnica de Valencia (Spain) and the Silicon Photonics Group at the Advanced Technology Institute, University of Surrey (UK). HELIOS partners have unveiled these results in Optics Express, Vol. 19, Issue 21 and during the 8th International Conference on Group IV Photonics in London (UK) on September 14th-16th 2011, at the prestigious post-deadline session.

For more information on HELIOS, including a list of partners, visit the HELIOS Project website www.helios-project.eu/.

About CEA-Leti

CEA is a French research and technology organization, with activities in four main areas: energy, information technologies, healthcare technologies and defence and security. Within CEA, the Laboratory for Electronics & Information Technology (CEA-Leti) works with companies in order to increase their competitiveness through technological innovation and transfers. CEA-Leti is focused on micro and nanotechnologies and their applications, from wireless devices and systems, to biology and healthcare or photonics. Nanoelectronics and microsystems (MEMS) are at the core of its activities. As a major player in MINATEC campus, CEA-Leti operates 8,000-m² state-of-the-art clean rooms, on 24/7 mode, on 200mm and 300mm wafer standards. With 1,400 employees, CEA-Leti trains more than 190 Ph.D. students and hosts 200 assignees from partner companies. Strongly committed to the creation of value for the industry, CEA-Leti puts a strong emphasis on intellectual property and owns more than 1,700 patent families. Visit www.leti.fr

Press Contacts:


Thierry Bosc

+33 4 38 78 31 95


Laurent Fulbert, Photonics Programs Manager

+33 4 38 78 38 45


Weber Shandwick France

Robert Ba / Floriane Geroudet

+33 1 47 59 38 75 / 56 46