Photo-induced spatial modulation of THz waves: opportunities and limitations

Opt Express. 2015 Dec 14;23(25):32098-112. doi: 10.1364/OE.23.032098.


Programmable conductive patterns created by photoexcitation of semiconductor substrates using digital light processing (DLP) provides a versatile approach for spatial and temporal modulation of THz waves. The reconfigurable nature of the technology has great potential in implementing several promising THz applications, such as THz beam steering, THz imaging or THz remote sensing, in a simple, cost-effective manner. In this paper, we provide physical insight about how the semiconducting materials, substrate dimension, optical illumination wavelength and illumination size impact the performance of THz modulation, including modulation depth, modulation speed and spatial resolution. The analysis establishes design guidelines for the development of photo-induced THz modulation technology. Evolved from the theoretical analysis, a new mesa array technology composed by a matrix of sub-THz wavelength structures is introduced to maximize both spatial resolution and modulation depth for THz modulation with low-power photoexcitation by prohibiting the lateral diffusion of photogenerated carriers.