We show the feasibility of controlling the magnetic permeability of optical semiconductor devices on InP-based photonic integration platforms. We have achieved the permeability control of GaInAsP/InP semiconductor waveguides by combining the waveguide with a metamaterial consisting of gate-controlled split ring resonators. The split-ring resonators interact magnetically with light travelling in the waveguide and move the effective relative permeability of the waveguide away from 1 at optical frequencies. The variation in permeability can be controlled with the gate voltage. Using this variable-permeability waveguide, we have built an optical modulator consisting of a GaInAsP/InP Mach–Zehnder interferometer for use at an optical communication wavelength of 1.55 μm. The device changes the permeability of its waveguide arm with controlling gate voltage, thereby varying the refractive index of the arm to modulate the intensity of light. For the study of variable-permeability waveguide devices, we also propose a method of extracting separately the permittivity and permeability values of devices from the experimental data of light transmission. Adjusting the permeability of optical semiconductors to the needs of device designers will open the promising field of ‘permeability engineering’. Permeability engineering will facilitate the manipulation of light and the management of photons, thereby contributing to the development of novel devices with sophisticated functions for photonic integration.
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