Unprecedented Electro-Optic Performance in Lead-Free Transparent Ceramics

Significance Statement

Electro optical materials play a significant role in photonic industry, scientific, medical, and manufacturing applications where modulation of light is achieved by electro optical materials. Lithium niobate is used extensively in the electro-optical industry including amplitude modulators (Pockels cells), phase modulators, beam deflectors. But lithium niobate needs high voltage and have to be used in thick materials which lead to increase of capital cost. As electric optical devices provide fastest broadband connection, cost reduction of electric optical devices is important.

University of California at San Diego scientists led by Professor Javier E. Garay reported a new class of transparent ceramics that has an excellent electro optical property that is superior to current electro optical materials.  The new material is a solid solution based on barium titanate (BT) which the authors called BXT. They proposed an efficient domain switching and field-induced phase transitions for the high electro optical response. When the coefficient of electro optical material is high, then more compact and potentially less-expensive devices can be produced.

They also demonstrated the first BXT-based electro-optical amplitude modulator operates at much lower voltage (26.5 times lower) than a comparable lithium niobate crystal -based device at frequencies up to 10 kHz.

The BXT material reported in this study has the following attributes:

  1. Low porosity (99+% dense) with fine grains resulting in transparency in BXT
  2. Excellent electro-optic coefficients that can lead to devices that are more compact and potentially less expensive.
  3. Contains no lead, which increases the potential mass market applications (more environmental friendly)

Future work by the team includes further optimization of electro-optic performance of BXT ceramics through minimizing optical loss by reducing grain size and improving the material’s composite electro-optic coefficient values by optimizing the BCT–BZT composition.

The high electric optical potential material developed in this study could become the material of choice electro-optic modulation in a broad range of applications from telecom market to lasers in medicine.

Unprecedented Electro-Optic Performance in Lead-Free - Advances in Engineering

About the author

Dr. Alexander Dupuy received his doctorate in Mechanical Engineering from the University of California, Riverside in 2016. His dissertation focused primarily on the processing and measurement of lead free ceramics for electro-optic and ferroelectric applications. He is currently a postdoctoral scholar at the University of California, Irvine in the department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science.

About the author

Dr. Yasuhiro Kodera is an Assistant Research Scientist (Research Faculty Equivalent) in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the University of California, San Diego. His research expertise includes synthesis and processing of nanomaterials as well as advanced materials characterization.

About the author

Dr. Javier E. Garay is a Professor in the Materials Science and Engineering Program and the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the University of California, San Diego.

His research interests include advance material processing for optical, magnetic and thermal management applications. Particularly his research focuses on understanding and leveraging nano-length scales for property development.


Alexander D. Dupuy, Yasuhiro Kodera, Javier E. Garay, Unprecedented Electro-Optic Performance in Lead-Free Transparent Ceramics, Advanced materials, Volume 28, 2016, Pages 7970–7977.

Materials Science and Engineering and Mechanical Engineering, University of California, Riverside, Riverside, CA, USA.


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