Graphene photodetectors for high-speed optical communications
Although silicon has dominated solid-state electronics for more than four decades, a variety of other materials are used in photonic devices to expand the wavelength range of operation and improve performance. For example, gallium-nitride based materials enable light emission at blue and ultraviolet wavelengths1, and high index contrast silicon-on-insulator facilitates ultradense photonic devices2, 3. Here, we report the first use of a photodetector based on graphene4, 5, a two-dimensional carbon material, in a 10 Gbit s−1 optical data link. In this interdigitated metal–graphene–metal photodetector, an asymmetric metallization scheme is adopted to break the mirror symmetry of the internal electric-field profile in conventional graphene field-effect transistor channels6, 7, 8, 9, allowing for efficient photodetection. A maximum external photoresponsivity of 6.1 mA W−1 is achieved at a wavelength of 1.55 µm. Owing to the unique band structure of graphene10, 11 and extensive developments in graphene electronics12, 13 and wafer-scale synthesis13, graphene-based integrated electronic–photonic circuits with an operational wavelength range spanning 300 nm to 6 µm (and possibly beyond) can be expected in the future.