Polymers can be patterned into waveguide devices on large-area flexible substrates for the transport and processing of optical information. To enable tomorrow's optical networks with increased capacity and lower cost, new tunable devices will be required to implement modulators, reconfigurable filters and routers.
Tunability can be achieved in electro-optic devices where control is achieved by an applied voltage or in all-optical devices where light is used to change the device properties.
Electro-optic polymers show great promise because they can exhibit electro-optic coefficients that are ten times higher than Liithium Niobate, an inorganic crystal that is the current standard of the electro-optics industry. Electro-optic polymers can be processed and patterned using standard photolithography techniques. Furthermore, they exhibit ultra-fast optical nonlinearities that makes them compatible with ultra-fast optical networks.