This section provides an overview for optical modulators as well as their applications and principles. Also, please take a look at the list of 12 optical modulator manufacturers and their company rankings. Here are the top-ranked optical modulator companies as of March, 2024: 1.FindLight, 2.Microsemi Corporation, 3.Hamamatsu Photonics K.K..
An optical modulator is a device used for high-speed modulation applications by converting an electrical signal into an optical signal for output.
Also called an E/O converter (or O/E converter for the reverse conversion), it is mainly used as part of an optical transmission device in fiber-optic communications. In conventional systems, the signal used to transmit modulated signal information is always an electrical signal.
However, in order to realize optical communications using ultrahigh-speed, low-loss, high-capacity optical fiber, electrical signals must generally be used in some way to modulate the light source and output as an optical signal. The device that plays this role is an optical modulator.
Optical modulators are mainly used as modulators to convert the modulation of electrical signals in fiber-optic communication. They play an extremely important role in optical fiber communications, which are now the foundation of information transmission.
Fiber-optic communication is an optical communication method that enables high-speed and long-distance transmission by using low-loss, wide-bandwidth optical fiber for communication lines instead of ordinary electric wires, which have high loss and are susceptible to noise. To introduce this method, a device capable of fluidly exchanging electrical and optical signals is required, and an optical modulator is used.
The principle of light modulation includes the "direct modulation method," which uses light modulated by directly turning on and off the electrical bias of a semiconductor laser used as the light source, and the "external modulation method," which modulates light from a semiconductor laser using an LN (LiNbO3: lithium niobate) modulator, etc. There are two types of modulation methods.
The direct modulation method is a method in which the light source, the semiconductor laser itself, modulates the optical signal. However, the response speed of the semiconductor laser itself is limited and causes wavelength fluctuations called "chirping," so this method is not suitable for high-capacity optical fiber communications for trunk lines, where high speed is required.
In the external modulation method, a semiconductor laser, which is the light source, continuously outputs light of a constant wavelength. This light is input to an optical modulator, such as an LN modulator, and the amplitude and phase of the light are changed by an external electrical signal. The principle behind this is that the electrical signal is output as modulated light.
Generally, optical modulators are modulators used in this external modulation method. The method of converting electrical ON/OFF modulation into optical ON/OFF requires high-speed changes in the amplitude and phase of light, and for this purpose, physical phenomena such as light interference and electric field absorption are utilized.
Specifically, there are field-absorption (EA-type) optical modulators and Mach-Zehnder-type LN modulators. LN modulators, which are often used in high-capacity trunk line optical communications, have Y-shaped distributed optical waveguides, and by applying a bias to the waveguide and inducing a phase shift of the light, the intensity of the light passing through the LN modulator can be increased or decreased.
This method is very suitable for high-capacity, high-speed optical fiber communications because it does not, in principle, cause the chirping (wavelength fluctuation) of the direct modulation method.
LN modulators are characterized by low loss, and low chirping due to their Mach-Zehnder interference principle. However, they are subject to optical output drift variation due to temperature change and DC drift.
For this reason, manufacturers of LN modulators usually support dedicated bias controllers for LN modulators that automatically correct DC bias based on feedback information from PDs and other devices.
Although LN modulators can suppress wavelength fluctuation extremely well compared to field absorption and direct modulation methods, their drive voltage is relatively large at around 5 V and their size is relatively large (50 mm or more), so development toward smaller size and lower power consumption is continuously being promoted.
Recently, research and development is being actively conducted by research institutes of various manufacturers to compensate for the weak points of LN modulators, such as optical waveguides formed in a ring shape on a silicon substrate, known as silicon photonics, and MQW (multiple quantum well) optical waveguides on an InP compound semiconductor.
In addition, research and development of optoelectronic fusion technology at NTT's IWON, which actively handles optical signals as light inside the IC without an E/O converter, is also being actively pursued for even higher capacity communications in the future.
*Including some distributors, etc.
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Thorlabs, Inc, established in Newton, NJ in 1989, is a manufacturer of photonics equipment for research, manufacturing, and biomedical applications. Their product portfolio includes optical components, for use in imaging, sensing, and spectroscopy applications, spectrometers and analyzers used for research and industrial applications, fiber optic components and photomultiplier tubes, and imaging devices that capture and measure light signals for diverse applications in scientific research. The company has sales offices in the United States, United Kingdom, Sweden, China, and Brazil.
Microsemi Corporation was founded in 1959 and is headquartered in Aliso Viejo, California. Microsemi is a subsidiary of Microchip Technology Incorporated. Microsemi is a provider of semiconductor and system solutions for aerospace, communications, data center, and industrial markets. A few of Microsemi’s product lines include high-performance and radiation-hardened analog mixed-signal integrated circuits, FPGAs, power management products, timing and synchronization devices, and RF solutions. Microsemi’s technological strengths are in connectivity, energy efficiency, miniaturization, power management, and security.
Agiltron Inc., founded in 2001 and headquartered in Woburn, Massachusetts, is a manufacturer and developer of premium optical and photonic components and systems for communications, sensing, and instrumentation. The company is an ISO 9001 certified optical systems producer with a team of scientists and engineers, and well-equipped modern facilities. It serves markets with both standard products and customer-driven special product development. Its products are based on optical, micromechanical, and electro-optic systems, in combination with its competencies in manufacturing, imaging systems, and infrared photonics.
FindLight, located in Berkeley, California, United States, is an online marketplace for the photonics industry, connecting buyers and sellers of photonics products on a single platform, was founded in 2013. The company's platform is organized into a hierarchy of product categories, including lasers, optics, optomechanics, light detection systems, and other photonics products. They aim to simplify the shopping process in the photonics industry by seamlessly connecting sellers and buyers on one easy-to-use platform. They were founded after an extensive customer discovery process conducted in the frameworks of NSF I-Corp Entrepreneurship Program at UC Berkeley.
Hamamatsu Photonics K.K., established in 1953 and headquartered in Hamamatsu, Japan, is a manufacturer of sensors and emitters for both visible and invisible light. It stocks products like LEDs, lamps, and photodiodes used in several industries, including consumer electronics, dental imaging, and environmental monitoring. The sensor and light source components are also available as modules and units that can be incorporated into systems the company develops, like optical measurement systems or imaging systems. The ISO 9001-certified company stocks over 15,000 devices, units, and systems that ship to over 100 destinations worldwide, and it has ten research and production bases.
AMS Technologies AG is a German manufacturer of thermal management, photonics, and power technology products that was originally founded in 1982 as AMS Technologies GmbH before rebranding in 2007. Based in Munich, Bavaria, the company produces power technology systems such as resistors and capacitors, as well as optical components including spectrometers and fiber optics. It also offers thermal management solutions, such as vapor compression and liquid cooling systems for electronics or thermoelectrics. AMS Technologies operates internationally, with sales offices in France, Italy, Spain, and the UK. The company primarily serves clients in renewable energy, avionics, and nanotechnology R&D.
Renesas Electronics Corporation was established in 2002 and is headquartered in Tokyo, Japan. Renesas is a global research, design, and manufacturer of semiconductors used in industries spanning automotive, consumer electronics, the internet of things, power & energy, and industrial sectors. Renesas manufactures both analog and digital products. Analog products include amplifiers, audio & video devices, data converters, PLC, and switches & multiplexers. Digital products include microcontrollers, memory components, sensors, wireless connectivity products, and others. Renesas also offers design resources such as kits, development tools, partner programs, and design tools.
Anritsu Corporation, established in 1931 and based in Atsugi, Japan, is a manufacturer of electronic measuring instruments, quality assurance systems, and Information and Telecommunication equipment and devices. Its test and measurement products include power meters, power sensors, and conformance test systems, while X-ray inspection systems, metal detectors, and checkweighers ensure food safety and security. Other products like instrumentation-grade adapters and optical sensing equipment are used in IT. The company’s stock was listed in the 2nd section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange in 1961, and in 1968, it was listed in the 1st section.
Electro Optical Components Inc., founded in 1997 and based in Santa Rosa, California, is a distributor of special electronic components such as infrared detectors, electronic amplifiers, and gas sensors. It represents European companies in North America, some of which include IMM Photonics GmbH, LBP Optics, and LED Microsensor NT. The company has a turnover of between $2,000,000 and $5,000,000 and supports several charities around Sonoma County, including Windsor Rotary, The Living Room, and Salvation Army. It has also awarded over 100 scholarships to bright students from Sonoma State University and Santa Rosa Junior College.
AIP Publishing LLC., founded in Melville, NY, in 2013 is a supplier of online research journals, conference proceedings, and essential information for physical scientists. The company's product portfolio includes e-books, product guides, sector news and peer-reviewed research journals covering a wide spectrum of subjects about science, technology, medicine, and social sciences. They serve industries such as Healthcare and Medicine, Industry and Innovation, Academia, and Social Sciences. wholly owned not-for-profit subsidiary of the American Institute of Physics (AIP).
RP Photonics was established in 2004 in Zürich, Switzerland as a supplier of digital marketing, software, and technical consulting in photonics. They provide online platforms for education and information with RP Photonics Encyclopedia which has over 1000 articles as an open online resource about photonics, and the RP Photonics Buyer’s Guide lists the suppliers for related products. Their Consultancy helps with product designing, problem-solving, and training for Lasers and Amplifiers, Nonlinear optics, Fiber Optics, Ultrashort Pulses, and Energy whereas their Software designing has products such as RP Fiber Calculator, Resonator, Q-Switch, etc. that are applicable in laser and medical device manufacturing.
*Including some distributors, etc.
*Including some distributors, etc.
|Number of Companies
|United States of America