An electro-optic effect is a change in the optical properties of a material in response to an electric field that varies slowly compared with the frequency of light. The term encompasses a number of distinct phenomena, which can be subdivided into changes in absorption and changes in refractive index.

As far the changes in refractive index are concerned, there are two main electro-optic effects : The Kerr effect (quadratic) and the Pockells effect (linear). In LiNbO3 modulators, the change in the refractive index linearly proportional to the electric field (Pockells effect) is used.

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