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Optical Modulators

Definition: devices allowing one to manipulate properties of light beams, such as the optical power or phase

More specific terms: acousto-optic modulators, electro-optic modulators, Pockels cells, electroabsorption modulators, liquid crystal modulators, intensity modulators, phase modulators

German: optische Modulatoren

Categories: photonic devices, lightwave communications


Cite the article using its DOI: https://doi.org/10.61835/6t6

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An optical modulator is a device which can be used for manipulating a property of light – often of an optical beam, e.g. a laser beam. Depending on which property of light is controlled, modulators are called intensity modulators, phase modulators, modulators, spatial light modulators, etc.

A wide range of optical modulators are used in very different application areas, such as in optical fiber communications, displays, for active Q switching or mode locking of lasers, and in optical metrology.

Types of Optical Modulators

There are very different kinds of optical modulators:

Bulk-optical modulators, e.g. of the electro-optic type, can be used with large beam areas, and handle correspondingly large optical powers. On the other hand, there are fiber-coupled modulators, often realized as a waveguide modulator with fiber pigtails, which can easily be integrated into fiber-optic systems.


The RP Photonics Buyer's Guide contains 66 suppliers for optical modulators. Among them:

See also: intensity modulators, phase modulators, acousto-optic modulators, electro-optic modulators, electroabsorption modulators, liquid crystal modulators, Pockels cells, Pockels cell drivers, optical choppers

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