New optical switch approaches peak energy efficiency

22 septembre 2021 by Tan Nguyen
In Nature, POLLOC researchers from IBM Research Europe – Zurich, Skoltech, the University of Southampton and several other institutions report on their success in making an extremely efficient, ultrafast all-optical switch that brings the input power necessary for the switch close to the lowest possible limit – single photons.

The new device is made with a thin organic polymer layer as active material that is sandwiched between two highly reflective mirrors. In the strong-light matter interaction regime, exciton-polariton condensates can be produced by shining in a “pump” laser beam under an angle, producing an “output” beam of light. Harnessing various optimizations, the team could show that these condensates can be “seeded” and stimulated by as little as a single photon, effectively realizing an optical single-photon nonlinearity even a room temperature. The switching energy on the attojoule scale combined with picosecond switching time is an important step forward towards ultrafast, efficient all-optical logic circuits.

The results are discussed for popular audience in the Webinar with Pavlos Lagoudakis and Darius Urbonas on YouTube and in this blog article.

Find more about our original Nature article here.

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