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Electrically reconfigurable non-volatile metasurface using low-loss optical phase-change material

Abstract

Active metasurfaces promise reconfigurable optics with drastically improved compactness, ruggedness, manufacturability and functionality compared to their traditional bulk counterparts. Optical phase-change materials (PCMs) offer an appealing material solution for active metasurface devices with their large index contrast and non-volatile switching characteristics. Here we report a large-scale, electrically reconfigurable non-volatile metasurface platform based on optical PCMs. The optical PCM alloy used in the devices, Ge2Sb2Se4Te (GSST), uniquely combines giant non-volatile index modulation capability, broadband low optical loss and a large reversible switching volume, enabling notably enhanced light–matter interactions within the active optical PCM medium. Capitalizing on these favourable attributes, we demonstrated quasi-continuously tuneable active metasurfaces with record half-octave spectral tuning range and large optical contrast of over 400%. We further prototyped a polarization-insensitive phase-gradient metasurface to realize dynamic optical beam steering.

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Fig. 1: Device configuration and switching schemes.
Fig. 2: Temperature distribution of the device platform.
Fig. 3: Demonstration of bi-state spectral tuning.
Fig. 4: Demonstration of quasi-continuous spectral tuning.
Fig. 5: Demonstration of reconfigurable beam steering.

Data availability

The data that support the findings of this study are available from the corresponding authors upon reasonable request.

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Acknowledgements

This work was funded by Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Defense Sciences Office Program: EXTREME Optics and Imaging (EXTREME) under agreement no. HR00111720029, and by the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering under Air Force Contract nos. FA8721-05-C-0002 and/or FA8702-15-D-0001. We also acknowledge characterization facility support provided by the Materials Research Laboratory at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), as well as fabrication facility support by the Microsystems Technology Laboratories at MIT and Harvard University Center for Nanoscale Systems. The views, opinions and/or findings expressed are those of the authors and should not be interpreted as representing the official views or policies of the Department of Defense or the US Government. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish or preparation of the manuscript. Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering.

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Contributions

Y.Z. performed material deposition, device design and metasurface characterization. Y.Z. and J.L. fabricated the metasurfaces and conducted device characterization. C.F. conceived and designed the Huygens’ surface. B.A., M.Y.S., S.D.-J. and C.R. assisted in device characterization. S.A. helped with device modelling. J.B.C., C.M.R. and V.L. measured the multi-state metasurfaces. M.K. prepared the bulk materials. T.G., C.R.-B., K.A.R., H.Z. and J.H. supervised the research. All authors contributed to technical discussions and writing the paper.

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Correspondence to Hualiang Zhang or Juejun Hu.

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Peer review information Nature Nanotechnology thanks Alex Krasnok, Ho Wai Howard Lee and Jinghua Teng for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

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Supplementary Information

Supplementary Figs. 1–8, Discussion and Table 1.

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Zhang, Y., Fowler, C., Liang, J. et al. Electrically reconfigurable non-volatile metasurface using low-loss optical phase-change material. Nat. Nanotechnol. 16, 661–666 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41565-021-00881-9

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