IBM's Optical Modulator
Date added: 06 Dec 2007
IBM's optical modulator performs the function of converting a digital electrical signal carried on a wire, into a series of light pulses, carried on a silicon nanophotonic waveguide. First, an input laser beam (marked by red color) is delivered to the optical modulator. The optical modulator (black box with IBM logo) is basically a very fast “shutter” which controls whether the input laser is blocked or transmitted to the output waveguide. When a digital electrical pulse (a “1” bit marked by yellow) arrives from the left at the modulator, a short pulse of light is allowed to pass through at the optical output on the right. When there is no electrical pulse at the modulator (a “0” bit), the modulator blocks light from passing through at the optical output. In this way, the device “modulates” the intensity of the input laser beam, and the modulator converts a stream of digital bits (“1”s and “0”s) from electrical input pulses into pulses of light.