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Tunable bipolar optical interactions between guided lightwaves


State-of-the-art advances in nanoscale optomechanics allow light to be guided in free-standing waveguides or resonators1,2. In closely spaced devices, the coupling between the guided lightwaves gives rise to an optical force known as the ‘optical bonding force’3,4,5,6. Indeed, attractive optical force has been observed in substrate coupled devices7. According to recent theoretical predictions3, the optical force should show bipolar behaviour depending on the relative phase between in-plane coupled lightwaves. So far, such an in-plane optical force has not been measured. Here, we experimentally demonstrate a bipolar optical force between planarly coupled nanophotonic waveguides. Both attractive and repulsive optical forces are obtained. The sign of the force can be switched reversibly by tuning the relative phase of the interacting lightwaves. This highly engineerable force of bipolar nature could be used as the operation principle for a new class of planar light force devices and circuits on a CMOS-compatible platform.

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Figure 1: Optical interaction between two coupled waveguides.
Figure 2: Mach–Zehnder (MZ) cascade with the two waveguides coupled at the centre.
Figure 3: In situ tuning of the interaction force and the waveguides' nanomechanical resonance responses.
Figure 4: Tunable optical force between two coupled waveguides.

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We acknowledge a seedling grant from DARPA/MTO. H.X.T. acknowledges support from a CAREER award from the National Science Foundation (NSF). W.H.P.P. acknowledges support from the Alexander von Humboldt postdoctoral fellowship program. Part of the funding was provided by a seed grant offered by Yale Institute for Nanoscience and Quantum Information. The devices were fabricated at Yale University Center for Microelectronic Materials and Structures and the NSF-sponsored Cornell Nanoscale Facility.

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Correspondence to H. X. Tang.

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Li, M., Pernice, W. & Tang, H. Tunable bipolar optical interactions between guided lightwaves. Nature Photon 3, 464–468 (2009).

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