Nav: Home

Big energy savings: OSU researchers build the world's smallest electro-optic modulator

January 22, 2018

CORVALLIS, Ore. - Researchers at Oregon State University have designed and fabricated the world's smallest electro-optic modulator, which could mean major reductions in energy used by data centers and supercomputers.

An electro-optic modulator plays the key role in fiber optic networks. Just as a transistor is a switch for electronic signals, an electro-optic modulator is a switch for optical signals. Optical communication uses light, so the modulator turns on and off the light that sends a stream of binary signals over optical fibers.

The new modulator is 10 times smaller and can potentially be 100 times more energy efficient than the best previous devices. It is roughly the size of a bacterium, measuring 0.6 by 8 microns.

"This is by far the most exciting research I have ever done because of the impact the device will bring and because of the challenge it was for design and fabrication," said Alan Wang, associate professor of electrical engineering in the OSU College of Engineering.

The paper was published by Nano Letters.

For their invention, Wang and his doctoral student, Erwen Li, leveraged technology also developed at Oregon State: transparent conductive oxide materials. The structure they invented uses a transparent conductive oxide gate instead of a typical metal gate to combine a metal-oxide semiconductor capacitor with an ultra-compact photonic crystal nanocavity.

The design, combining innovations in materials and devices, enhanced the interaction between electronics and photonics, which enabled the researchers to create a smaller electro-optic modulator.

Wang had consulted his colleagues in industry about whether he was on the right track for developing something they could use.

"They told me reducing the size and reducing the energy consumption is going to be the trend in the next five to 10 years in industry. So this is exactly the kind of device they're looking for," Wang said.
-end-
The research is part of a Department of Defense Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative award. Wang is one of the six researchers from across the nation who received the five-year grant from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research to advance technologies to reduce energy consumption of optoelectronic devices.

Oregon State University

Related Data Centers Articles:

Data centers use less energy than you think
Using the most detailed model to date of global data center energy use, researchers found that massive efficiency gains by data centers have kept energy use roughly flat over the past decade.
RUDN University mathematicians help improve efficiency of data centers using Markov chains
RUDN University mathematicians created a model of maximum efficiency of data centers.
Life data economics: calling for new models to assess the value of human data
After the collapse of the blockchain bubble a number of research organisations are developing platforms to enable individual ownership of life data and establish the data valuation and pricing models.
Geoscience data group urges all scientific disciplines to make data open and accessible
Institutions, science funders, data repositories, publishers, researchers and scientific societies from all scientific disciplines must work together to ensure all scientific data are easy to find, access and use, according to a new commentary in Nature by members of the Enabling FAIR Data Steering Committee.
Advance boosts efficiency of flash storage in data centers
New architecture promises to cut in half the energy and physical space required to store and manage user data.
Disparities in access to trauma centers
An analysis of census tract data for neighborhoods in America's three largest cities suggests black-majority neighborhoods are associated with disparities in access to trauma centers.
Audit finds biodiversity data aggregators 'lose and confuse' data
Both online repositories the Atlas of Living Australia (ALA) and the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) were found to 'lose and confuse' portions of the data provided to them, according to an independent audit of ca.
Fast, high capacity fiber transmission gets real for data centers
A research team from Nokia will report the real-time, bi-directional transmission of 78 interleaved, 400 gigabit per second (Gb/s) channels with a 31.2 terabit per second (Tb/s) fiber capacity
70Gb/s optical intra-connects in data centers based on band-limited devices
High-speed and low-cost data center optical intra-connects have been developed quickly.
Caching system could make data centers more energy efficient
This week, at the International Conference on Very Large Databases, researchers from MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) are presenting a new system for data center caching that uses flash memory, the kind of memory used in most smartphones.
More Data Centers News and Data Centers Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: Reinvention
Change is hard, but it's also an opportunity to discover and reimagine what you thought you knew. From our economy, to music, to even ourselves–this hour TED speakers explore the power of reinvention. Guests include OK Go lead singer Damian Kulash Jr., former college gymnastics coach Valorie Kondos Field, Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs, and entrepreneur Nick Hanauer.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dispatch 6: Strange Times
Covid has disrupted the most basic routines of our days and nights. But in the middle of a conversation about how to fight the virus, we find a place impervious to the stalled plans and frenetic demands of the outside world. It's a very different kind of front line, where urgent work means moving slow, and time is marked out in tiny pre-planned steps. Then, on a walk through the woods, we consider how the tempo of our lives affects our minds and discover how the beats of biology shape our bodies. This episode was produced with help from Molly Webster and Tracie Hunte. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.