We report on the development of different surface-normal multiple quantum well (MQW) modulator devices. Owing to their unique speed advantage, arrays of surface-normal MQW modulators are very well suited for fast and parallel signal processing, and can be developed for both digital or analogue signals. We present the design and fabrication process for single surface-normal MQW modulators, as well as for high fill factor (80-90%) 1-D arrays of such modulators. Design issues and trade-offs in terms of modulator size, speed and contrast ratios are described. Contrast ratios in excess of 100:1 have been demonstrated. 3-dB frequency modulation bandwidths in excess of 1GHz have been obtained for single modulator devices of 125μm in diameter. Performances of 1-D arrays of 64 and 128 modulators (pixel size: 2mmx80μm and 2mmx40μm, respectively) are also presented, with response time for programmable filtering in the order of 10 ns.© (2004) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.