Waveguide Modulators

  • Clifford R. Pollock
  • Michal Lipson


There are two common methods for encoding a signal onto an optical beam: either directly modulate the optical source, or externally modulate a continuous wave optical source. Direct modulation is the most widespread method of modulation today, but it introduces demanding constraints on the semiconductor lasers. For example, it is difficult to directly modulate a semiconductor laser at frequencies above a few GHz. Furthermore, it is difficult to maintain single mode operation of these pulsed lasers. Non-single-mode lasers have a larger spectral bandwidth which leads to increased pulse spreading due to dispersion. External modulators offer several advantages over direct modulation. First, one can use a relatively simple and inexpensive continuous wave laser as the primary optical source. Second, since a modulator can encode information based on a number of externally controlled effects, it is not compromised by the need to maintain a population inversion or single mode control. Finally, direct phase modulation (for FM or PM systems) is possible in external modulators, but is nearly impossible to achieve in a laser.


Insertion Loss Optical Beam Free Spectral Range Electrooptic Effect Single Mode Waveguide 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Clifford R. Pollock
    • 1
  • Michal Lipson
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Electrical and Computer EngineeringCornell UniversityIthacaUSA

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