A DTU research team report in the May 11 2006 issue of the scientific journal Nature on strained silicon as a new electro-optic material.
DTU reseachers report that a significant linear electro-optic effect can be induced in silicon by breaking the crystal symmetry. The symmetry is broken by depositing a straining layer on top of a silicon waveguide that induces a non-linear coefficient. This makes it possible to change the phase of light by applying an electric field across the waveguide and, thus, to realize a silicon electro-optic modulator.
The strain-induced linear electro-optic effect may be exploited to remove a bottleneck in modern computers and network nodes by replacing the electronic bus with its much faster optical counterpart.