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Graphene Optical Modulators Could Lead to Ultrafast Communications.

UC Berkeley News Center (05/08/11) Sarah Yang

University of California, Berkeley researchers have developed graphene-based technology that could revolutionize digital communications. The researchers, led by Berkeley professors Xiang Zhang and Feng Wang, built a tiny optical device using graphene that can switch light on and off, a fundamental aspect of a network modulator. The researchers say that graphene-based modulators could enable consumers to stream full-length high-definition movies onto a smartphone in just a few seconds. “This new technology will significantly enhance our capabilities in ultrafast optical communication and computing,” Zhang says. The researchers achieved a modulation speed of one gigahertz, but theorized that speeds as high as 500 gigahertz on a single modulator are possible. Graphene can absorb a broad spectrum of light, which allows the material to carry more data than conventional modulators, which only operate at a bandwidth of up to 10 nanometers. “What we see here and going forward with graphene-based modulators are tremendous improvements, not only in consumer electronics, but in any field that is now limited by data transmission speeds, including bioinformatics and weather forecasting,” Zhang says.

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