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Fundamental limits and near-optimal design of graphene modulators and non-reciprocal devices

Nature Photonics volume 8, pages 556563 (2014) | Download Citation

Abstract

The potential of graphene for photonic applications was evidenced by recent demonstrations of modulators, polarization rotators and isolators. These promising yet preliminary results raise crucial questions: what is the optimal performance achievable by more complex designs and how can this optimum be achieved in practice? We answer by first demonstrating that the relevant figures of merit for the devices above are subject to absolute theoretical upper bounds. Strikingly, these limits are related only to the conductivity tensor of graphene; thus, we can provide essential roadmap information such as the best possible device performance versus wavelength and graphene quality. Second, based on the theory developed, physical insight and detailed simulations, we demonstrate how structures closely approaching these fundamental limits can be designed, demonstrating the possibility of significant improvement. These results are believed to be of paramount importance for the design of modulators, rotators and isolators using graphene or other two-dimensional materials.

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Acknowledgements

This work was supported by the Hasler Foundation (Project 11149) and by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) (grant no. 133583).

Author information

Affiliations

  1. Adaptive MicroNano Wave Systems, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), 1015 Lausanne, Switzerland

    • Michele Tamagnone
    •  & Julien Perruisseau-Carrier
  2. DESY-Center for Free-Electron Laser Science (CFEL), Notkestrasse 85, D-22607 Hamburg, Germany

    • Arya Fallahi
  3. Laboratory of Electromagnetics and Acoustics (LEMA), Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), 1015 Lausanne, Switzerland

    • Juan R. Mosig

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Contributions

M.T. and J.P.-C. conceived the idea of the bounds on the performance of graphene devices, as well as their practical exploitation (with comments from J.R.M.). M.T. developed the detailed mathematics of the theoretical bounds and A.F. developed the numerical electromagnetic solver. M.T. performed the simulations. M.T. and J.P.-C. wrote the manuscript (with comments from A.F.). J.P.-C. led the project.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Julien Perruisseau-Carrier.

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/nphoton.2014.109

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