Author: Polariton Technologies

We are happy to welcome our newest team member Nicholas Güsken, reinforcing our R&D team. Nicholas holds a PhD in Physics with a focus on Nanophotonics, Plasmonics and Optoelectronics  from Imperial College London.  At Polariton, Nicholas is involved in the R&D chip-development and bringing a viable product to the market.

We are happy to welcome our newest team member Norbert Meier reinforcing our fabrication team. Norbert brings in more than 15 years of experience in micro- and nanofabrication, with a strong focus on integrated optical elements and waveguide structures.

We are happy to welcome our newest team member Nino Del Medico, reinforcing our testing team. Nino joined Polariton after receiving his Master of Science from the department of mechanical and process engineering at ETH Zurich, with the main focus on thermodynamical and optical material properties in micro-and nanotechnology.

Polariton Technologies is happy to welcome our newest team member Hamit Duran, reinforcing our Electro-Optic Packaging Team. Hamit brings in more than 30-years production and R&D experience, with a strong know-how on electrical and optical interfaces and packages.

In order to improve the energy efficiency of the optical communication infrastructure, a research team led by ETH Zurich has developed a new platform combining electronic circuits and plasmonic integrated optics on a single chip. To overcome limitations in performance and energy efficiency of conventional approaches, they demonstrate the first plasmonic-electronic transmitter: the monolithic integration of plasmonic silicon-photonic electro-optic converters and advanced bipolar CMOS circuits. The plasmonic-electronic transmitter was published in Nature Electronics.

The challenge of ever-increasing data rates

The next generations of optical communication networks are subject to an exponentially increasing growth in data rates. Particular examples are data centers, which have to keep up with society’s demand for online services such as streaming, storage, computation and more. It is predicted, that by the end of this decade optical links have to provide Terabit per second speeds. Yet, current technologies will not be able to cope with this demand and new paradigms have to be introduced. Companies work on co-packaged optical engines to replace the copper interfaces from the Ethernet switch ICs. The plasmonic-electronic transmitter goes beyond and demonstrates how in future the optical interfaces can be directly processed on the switch ASICs, leading to better power consumption, denser integration, and high-speed interfaces.

The keyword for this paradigm shift is the electronic-photonic co­-integration. Conventionally, the co-integration is realised in a heterogeneous manner with two separate chips. This allows to use two different platforms for electronics and photonics, with almost independent development and testing. Yet, this approach is very costly and delivers non‑ideal performance due to the separation of the electrical and the optical chip at the most critical position. Monolithic integration avoids this by realising an electronic-photonic layer stack on a single substrate. Yet, it faces the challenge of strong interdependence between the underlying technologies, which has so far prevented its use as a high-speed platform.

Monolithic integration of electronics and photonics

Monolithic integration has now been achieved by researchers at ETH Zurich and colleagues. Key to the success was the co‑design of electronic and photonic device performance, including assembly and packaging, thermal optimization, and a new temperature-stable electro‑optic material developed at the University of Washington.

The monolithic transmitter (see Figure) combines electronics (blue) and photonics (red) in a layer stack on a common substrate. The electronic layers perform a 4:1 multiplexing to generate high­-speed electrical signal by mixing of four lower‑speed inputs. The photonic layer uses a plasmonic intensity modulator to convert the electrical signal into the optical domain for transmission via an optical fibre. These layers are connected by on‑chip wires to guarantee shortest distances and best signal quality.

Monolithic Transmitter
Monolithic transmitter existing of an electronic-photonic layer stack using a 4:1 SiGe BiCMOS mulitplexer and a plasmonic Mach-Zehnder modulator. (Picture: Ueli Koch, ETH Zurich)

Research collaboration under Horizon 2020

The unique collaboration under the umbrella of the Horizon 2020 project PLASMOfab has led to a breakthrough in electronic­-photonic co‑integration and the first time demonstration of more than 100 Gb/s data modulation in a monolithic transmitter. The high‑speed‑electronics specialists from the Saarland University and Micram, the high‑speed‑photonics experts from ETH Zurich and Polariton Technologies, and many other collaborators have created a novel BiCMOS-plasmonic platform for highest-speed optical interconnects that is expected to keep up with the datacentre demands of the next decades.

This breakthrough has been published in the article A Monolithic Bipolar CMOS Electronic- Plasmonic High-Speed Transmitter” in Nature Electronics in June 2020 by the authors Ueli Koch, Christopher Uhl, Horst Hettrich, Yuriy Fedoryshyn, Claudia Hoessbacher, Wolfgang Heni, Benedikt Baeuerle, Bertold Ian Bitachon, Arne Josten, Masafumi Ayata, Huajun Xu, Delwin L. Elder, Larry R. Dalton, Elad Mentovich, Paraskevas Bakopoulos, Stefan Lischke, Andreas Krüger, Lars Zimmermann, Dimitris Tsiokos, Nikos Pleros, Michael Möller, and Juerg Leuthold.


A new plasmonic dual-drive modulator enables cost- and power-efficient short-reach communications at highest speed. The plasmonic device allows for a 4-fold reach extension to distances beyond 10 km. The plasmonic transmitter is based on a simple and low-cost direct-detection/on-off-keying implementation with a single-wavelength data rate of 100 Gbit/s. Requiring no digital signal processing (DSP) in the transmitter, and by reducing the DSP-complexity in the receiver by a factor of >10, this technology becomes an attractive solution for intra-datacenter communication.

This collaboration of ETH Zürich and University of Washington was highlighted by the Editors of  Optics Express for its excellent scientific quality (Editor’s Pick). Thanks for the excellent teamwork Benedikt Bäuerle, Claudia Hössbacher, Wolfgang Heni, Yuriy Fedoryshyn, Ueli Koch, Arne Josen, Delwin Elder, Juerg Leuthold 

Baeuerle et al., “100 GBd IM/DD transmission over 14 km SMF in the C-band enabled by a plasmonic SSB MZM,” Opt. Express 28, 8601-8608 (2020)


Polariton Technologies is happy to welcome our newest team member Patrick Habegger, reinforcing our integrated optics R&D team. Patrick received his Masters degree in Information Technology and Electrical Engineering from ETH Zurich, with the main focus an integrated photonics and electronics.

Plasmonic modulators enable the first high-speed monolithic transmitter operating beyond 100GBd. At the 45th European Conference on Optical Communication (ECOC 2019), ETH Zurich researcher Ueli Koch presented the first monolithic high-speed transmitter offering 120 Gbit/s NRZ-OOK integrated on a single chip of only 1.5mm x 3mm, comprising an electronic-photonic layer stack including a 4:1 SiGe BiCMOS multiplexer and plasmonic modulators.  

The groundbreaking work “Monolithic High-Speed Transmitter Enabled by BiCMOS-Plasmonic Platform” accelerates the co-integration of electronics and photonics. This work was made possible by the collaboration of ETH Zürich, Universität des SaarlandesMicram Microelectronic GmbHUniversity of WashingtonMellanox Technologies Ltd., Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (AUTH), and Polariton Technologies Ltd. 

Plasmonic modulators enabled a new world-record demonstration for intra-data center and rack-to-rack communication. The work “222 GBaud On-Off keying transmitter using ultra-high-speed 2:1-selector and plasmonic modulator on silicon photonics” was presented as a post-deadline paper at the 45th European Conference on Optical Communication (ECOC 2019) in Dublin. It demonstrates how plasmonics brings highest data rates to data centers using low-cost intensity modulation / direct detection schemes.  

The plasmonic Mach-Zehnder modulator was directly driven by III-V lab’s  InP DHPT 2:1 selector, without the need of any expensive driving amplifiers. The system was tested in an intra-data center, rack-to-rack scenario by Nokia Bell Labs.  

The work was made possible by the collaboration of ETH Zürich, University of Washington, Nokia Bell Labs, III-V Lab, and Polariton Technologies.  


Venture Kick awards  Polariton Technologies Ltd. pre-seed funding to support innovations that will accelerate global communication.

Polariton Technologies is happy to welcome our newest team member Dr. Eva De Leo, reinforcing our integrated optics R&D team. Eva holds a PhD from the Optical Materials Engineering Laboratory of ETH Zurich and is expert in integrated plasmonics, photonics, nanofabrication, and optical materials.


Polariton Technologies is now supported by the European Innovation Council (EIC) SME Instrument Phase 1.

Key elements of our communication infrastructure are electro-optic modulators that encode electrical signals onto light. The ETH spin-off Polariton Technologies has developed a ground-breaking new modulator technology that outperforms conventional devices.

To bring down the energy consumption of today’s communication infrastructure, researchers from the Institute of Electromagnetic Fields, ETH Zurich, developed a new component that efficiently transforms electrical data into optical light signals consuming extremely little energy. This new technology, described in a paper recently published in Nature Communications, can be used to transfer ever-growing amounts of information between cities, datacenters and even continents.

Polariton Technologies joins the European Photonics Industry Consortium EPIC

Polariton Technologies joins the ESA BIC Switzerland family.

The two Swiss startups are gaining speed as they aim to accelerate communication infrastructure and gene-editing techniques. Both convinced juries to earn their 2nd ‘kick’ from Venture Kick, and 40,000 Swiss francs pre-seed funding.

While light waves sent through optical fibers support fast data transmission, the “last mile,” from the fiber optic cable to the internet socket in your home, can be the most challenging and expensive leg of the journey. In the future a new light modulator developed by researchers at ETH Zürich, with support from the University of Washington, could cover the “last mile” where data must travel efficiently and at a low cost.

A microscale modulator using plasmonically active gold components demonstrates fast operation for ultra-broadband signals