Electro-optic modulators provide the electrical control of the intensity, frequency, and phase of an optical signal. They became an indispensable part of our telecommunication network and largely dictate the achievable data bandwidths. Novel active material platforms and recent advantages in fabrication and processing techniques enabled the next generation of electro-optic modulators featuring significantly improved performance in the relevant device metrics, i.e., modulation efficiency, bandwidth, wavelength range of operation, device footprint, and environmental stability. Here, we overview recent achievements of electro-optic modulation, consider tradeoffs between the performance matrices, and conduct an assessment of electro-optic modulators based on the relevant nanophotonic device configurations and material platforms. We highlight the fundamental limitations and practical challenges for different electro-optic materials employed in photonic and plasmonic device platforms.
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