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Proposal of an optical modulator based on resonant tunneling and intersubband transitions

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3 Author(s)
Holmstrom, P. ; Dept. of Electron., R. Inst. of Technol., Kista, Sweden ; Thylén, L. ; Ukenberg, U.

We propose and analyze an optical modulator based on intersubband transitions. The absorption is modulated by modulating the carrier density in the ground state of a quantum well (QW). Electrons are injected resonantly into this subband from a QW reservoir subband through a single barrier. When the two states are tuned out of resonance, the electrons are rapidly evacuated by means of the optical field. A waveguide based on surface plasmons is assumed in order to have a high optical mode overlap. Calculations are performed for a cascaded structure with four periods, assuming InGaAs-InIAs QWs. The considered modulator structure operates at λ=6.0 μm and is RC limited to 27 GHz. An extinction ratio of 4 is obtained with a low applied voltage of 0.6 V. At larger applied voltages, the absorption is bistable. Absorption at shorter/longer wavelengths can be obtained by using materials with a larger/smaller conduction band offset. We also assess resonant tunneling from a 2-D electron gas reservoir into an array of quantum dots and compare it to the 2-D-2-D tunneling resonance

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Quantum Electronics, IEEE Journal of  (Volume:37 ,  Issue: 2 )