Light modulation is an essential operation in photonics and optoelectronics. With existing and emerging technologies increasingly demanding compact, efficient, fast and broadband optical modulators, high-performance light modulation solutions are becoming indispensable. The recent realization that two-dimensional layered materials could modulate light with superior performance has prompted intense research and significant advances, paving the way for realistic applications. In this review, we cover the state-of-the-art of optical modulators based on two-dimensional layered materials including graphene, transition metal dichalcogenides and black phosphorus. We discuss recent advances employing hybrid structures, such as two-dimensional heterostructures, plasmonic structures, and silicon/fibre integrated structures. We also take a look at future perspectives and discuss the potential of yet relatively unexplored mechanisms such as magneto-optic and acousto-optic modulation.
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