Exciton–polariton spin switches


Integrated switching devices comprise the building blocks of ultrafast optical signal processing1,2. As the next stage following intensity switching1,3,4, circular polarization switches5,6,7,8,9 are attracting considerable interest because of their applications in spin-based architectures10. They usually take advantage of nonlinear optical effects, and require high powers and external optical elements. Semiconductor microcavities provide a significant step forward due to their low-threshold, polarization-dependent, nonlinear emission11,12, fast operation13 and integrability. Here, we demonstrate a non-local, all-optical spin switch based on exciton–polaritons in a semiconductor microcavity. In the presence of a sub-threshold pump laser (dark regime), a tightly localized probe induces the switch-on of the entire pumped area. If the pump is circularly polarized, the switch is conditional on the polarization of the probe, but if it is linearly polarized, a circularly polarized probe fully determines the final polarization of the pumped area. These results set the basis for the development of spin-based logic devices, integrated in a chip14.

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Figure 1: Polariton dispersion, nonlinear transmission and propagation mechanism.
Figure 2: Circular polarization switch (σ+ pump).
Figure 3: Sensitivity to probe polarization.
Figure 4: Polarization propagation (TE pump).
Figure 5: Probe-controlled polarization.


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This work was partially supported by the Agence Nationale pour la Recherche (GEMINI 07NANO 07043). T.C.H.L. was supported by National Centre of Competence in Research Quantum Photonics (NCCR QP), research instrument of the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF). A.V.K. acknowledges the support from the European Theoretical Spectroscopy Facility project no. 211956. A.B. is a member of the Institut Universitaire de France.

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All authors contributed extensively to the work presented in this paper.

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Correspondence to A. Amo or A. Bramati.

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Amo, A., Liew, T., Adrados, C. et al. Exciton–polariton spin switches. Nature Photon 4, 361–366 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1038/nphoton.2010.79

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