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Electrically tunable VO2–metal metasurface for mid-infrared switching, limiting and nonlinear isolation


We demonstrate an electrically controlled vanadium dioxide (VO2)–metal metasurface for the mid-wave infrared regime that simultaneously functions as a tunable optical switch, an optical limiter with a tunable limiting threshold and a nonlinear optical isolator with a tunable operating range. The tunability is achieved via Joule heating through the metal comprising the metasurface, resulting in an integrated optoelectronic device. As an optical switch, the device has an experimental transmission ratio of ~100 when varying the bias current. Operating as an optical limiter, we demonstrated the tunability of the limiting threshold from 20 to 180 mW of incident laser power. Similar degrees of tunability are also achieved for nonlinear optical isolation, which enables asymmetric (non-reciprocal) transmission.

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Fig. 1: Design of our multifunctional device that can serve as an optical switch, limiter and isolator.
Fig. 2: Characterization of the optical switching function of our fabricated device.
Fig. 3: Characterization of the optical limiting function of our fabricated device.
Fig. 4: Characterization of the optical isolation function of our fabricated device.

Data availability

The data that support the plots within this paper are available via Figshare at (ref. 49), or from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.

Code availability

Files for the COMSOL and Lumerical models used in our Article are available via Figshare at (ref. 49), or from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.


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We acknowledge funding support from The Office of Naval Research (N00014-20-1-2297, received by M.A.K.) and from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (FA9550-18-1-0250, received by S.R.).

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Authors and Affiliations



M.A.K. and C.W. conceived the project, with M.A.K. providing the overall supervision. C.W. led the device design and optimization with input from J.K. The VO2 films were synthesized by T.J.P. and Z.Z., and supervised by S.R. C.W. and J.K. performed the remaining fabrication processes. The experimental setup and characterization were undertaken by C.W., J.K. and S.D. The photothermal simulations were conducted by C.W. and J.K. The data analysis was led by C.W., J.K. and M.A.K., with contributions from all co-authors. The manuscript was principally written by J.K., C.W. and M.A.K., with contributions from all co-authors.

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Correspondence to Mikhail A. Kats.

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Nature Photonics thanks Said R. K. Rodriguez and the other, anonymous, reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

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Supplementary Sections 1–9 and Figs. 1–12.

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King, J., Wan, C., Park, T.J. et al. Electrically tunable VO2–metal metasurface for mid-infrared switching, limiting and nonlinear isolation. Nat. Photon. 18, 74–80 (2024).

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