Optimizing an interleaved p-n junction to reduce energy dissipation in silicon slow-light modulators



Document Type



Electrical and Computer Engineering | Electromagnetics and Photonics | Engineering

Publication Details

Vol. 8, No. 4 / April 2020 / Photonics Research


Reducing power dissipation in electro-optic modulators is a key step for widespread application of silicon photonics to optical communication. In this work, we design Mach–Zehnder modulators in the silicon-on-insulator platform, which make use of slow light in a waveguide grating and of a reverse-biased p-n junction with interleaved contacts along the waveguide axis. After optimizing the junction parameters, we discuss the full simulation of the modulator in order to find a proper trade-off among various figures of merit, such as modulation efficiency, insertion loss, cutoff frequency, optical modulation amplitude, and dissipated energy per bit. Comparison with conventional structures (with lateral p-n junction and/or in rib waveguides without slow light) highlights the importance of combining slow light with the interleaved p-n junction, thanks to the increased overlap between the travelling optical wave and the depletion regions. As a surprising result, the modulator performance is improved over an optical bandwidth that is much wider than the slow-light bandwidth