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The authors demonstrate theoretically and experimentally that the extinction ratio of an InGaAsP waveguide electroabsorption optical modulator can be greatly improved by adding an InGaAs absorbing layer. They use both a simplified slab waveguide analysis and the full three-dimensional beam propagation method to study the light propagation in such modulators. The predicted increase in extinction ratio is then experimentally demonstrated in fabricated devices. The calculations are extended to a modulator integrated to a laser.