Although high-speed all-optical switches are expected to replace their electrical counterparts in information processing, their relatively large size and power consumption have remained obstacles. We use a combination of an ultrasmall photonic-crystal nanocavity and strong carrier-induced nonlinearity in InGaAsP to successfully demonstrate low-energy switching within a few tens of picoseconds. Switching energies with a contrast of 3 and 10 dB of 0.42 and 0.66 fJ, respectively, have been obtained, which are over two orders of magnitude lower than those of previously reported all-optical switches. The ultrasmall cavity substantially enhances the nonlinearity as well as the recovery speed, and the switching efficiency is maximized by a combination of two-photon absorption and linear absorption in the InGaAsP nanocavities. These switches, with their chip-scale integratability, may lead to the possibility of low-power, high-density, all-optical processing in a chip.
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The authors would like to thank A. Yokoo, E. Kuramochi, H. Sumikura and Y.G. Roh for fruitful discussions.
The authors declare no competing financial interests.
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Nozaki, K., Tanabe, T., Shinya, A. et al. Sub-femtojoule all-optical switching using a photonic-crystal nanocavity. Nature Photon 4, 477–483 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1038/nphoton.2010.89
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