Abstract Densely integrated active photonics is key for next generation on-chip networks for addressing both footprint and energy budget concerns. However, the weak light-matter interaction in traditional active Silicon optoelectronics mandates rather sizable device lengths. The ideal active material choice should avail high index modulation while being easily integrated into Silicon photonics platforms. Indium tin oxide (ITO) offers such functionalities and has shown promising modulation capacity recently. Interestingly, the nanometer-thin unity-strong index modulation of ITO synergistically combines the high group-index in hybrid plasmonic with nanoscale optical modes. Following this design paradigm, here, we demonstrate a spectrally broadband, GHz-fast Mach–Zehnder interferometric modulator, exhibiting a high efficiency signified by a miniscule VπL of 95 V μm, deploying a one-micrometer compact electrostatically tunable plasmonic phase-shifter, based on heterogeneously integrated ITO thin films into silicon photonics. Furthermore we show, that this device paradigm enables spectrally broadband operation across the entire telecommunication near infrared C-band. Such sub-wavelength short efficient and fast modulators monolithically integrated into Silicon platform open up new possibilities for high-density photonic circuitry, which is critical for high interconnect density of photonic neural networks or applications in GHz-fast optical phased-arrays, for example.
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