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Ultrafast Graphene Fiber Optics Components

Graphene, a new two-dimensional form of carbon, is currently one of the most promising materials for enabling ultrafast, compact and low power optical data communication.

Speed Bottlenecks

Fiber optics technology is the backbone of the Internet. With the observed and predicted explosive growth of Internet data -- as a result of Cloud-based services such as Netflix, Facebook, Google and many more -- the fundamental speed limits of current state-of-the-art fiber optic materials are being challenged.

While signals can move at the speed of light down an optical fiber, the actual information that can be transmitted is limited by the modulation speed of the optical modulators, and detection speed of the photodetectors.

Graphene Solution

With a very high charge-carrier mobility and broad-spectrum optical response, we believe graphene-based components, such as photodetectors and optical modulators, can potentially overcome the speed limits of today's fiber optics technology.

After exploring methods to produce low cost graphene, as well as researching various state-of-the-art photodetector technology, Carbon Sciences is now focused on the research and development of a graphene-based optical modulator.

For optical data to be transmitted through a fiber optic cable, light from a laser beam must be modulated, meaning changed or pulsed, to encode specific digital data. Otherwise, a constant beam of light doesn’t communicate anything. The faster the light beam can be modulated, the more data can be encoded and transmitted. One of the very important attributes of graphene is extreme high speed and tunable conductivity. Incidentally, changing the conductivity of graphene also changes its optical properties, which means light passing through it will also be changed accordingly to encode digital data. It is these fundamental features of graphene that our research program aims to explore in developing an ultrafast, low cost, and low power, graphene-based optical modulator.

Research and Development Program

Carbon Sciences is currently funding a sponsored research program with the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) to develop the graphene-base optical modulator. The development program is in its early stages.