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An effective platform for low-pump power ultrafast nonlinear optics

  • Publication Highlights
  • Dec. 25, 2019

Natural materials generally show no magnetism at optical frequencies. With the advances made in the area of metamaterials/metasurfaces, which derive their optical properties from the engineered structure of their resonant building blocks, i.e., meta-atoms, the idea that the magnetic field of light could be manipulated has become a reality. Optical magnetism is not only associated with a variety of interesting phenomena, but also is of great importance to numerous applications. Both plasmonic and dielectric resonators with subwavelength dimensions have been used to realize magnetism in optics. Compared with plasmonic structures that are well-known to possess intrinsic Ohmic loss, dielectric meta-atoms are highly desirable because of their unique ability to manipulate light with extremely low loss. Accordingly, there has been an increasing interest directed towards dielectric meta-optics that exploit Mie resonances to enable unprecedented flexibility in producing optical magnetism.

However, due to the generally moderate refractive index of available optical materials, most reported all-dielectric metasurfaces suffer from the coherent effect that arises from the coupling among multipole modes. This represents a serious drawback of current approaches that results in a series of undesirable characteristics, such as spectra that possess a low Q-factor and poor field confinement. Consequently, a new strategy that would allow enhanced Mie resonances for achieving dramatically strengthened light-matter interaction in meta-optics-based systems is highly desired. By successfully attaining this goal, Dr. Lei Kang, Dr. Huaguang Bao and Prof. Douglas H. Werner from Department of Electrical Engineering at The Pennsylvania State University demonstrate that the optical magnetism in high-index resonators can be significantly enhanced by adding a highly reflective back mirror to the system, with a concomitant improvement in field confinement and enhancement. This work is published in Photonics Research, Vol. 7, Issue 11, 2019 (Lei Kang, Huaguang Bao, Douglas H. Werner. Interference-enhanced optical magnetism in surface high-index resonators: a pathway toward high-performance ultracompact linear and nonlinear meta-optics[J]. Photonics Research, 2019, 7(11): 1296-1305).

The results in this work show that the magnetic response from amorphous silicon (α-Si) resonators located on top of a gold backplane can be one order of magnitude stronger than that seen in those on a glass substrate. To highlight the transformative advancements offered by the proposed mechanism in tailoring the response of meta-optical systems, two proof-of-concept demonstrations are presented. Numerical simulations reveal that the proposed meta-optical systems comprised of Mie resonators with interference-enhanced magnetism not only can significantly boost low-pump power ultrafast nonlinear dynamics, but also are able to realize highly efficient directional excitation of surface plasmon waves.

Prof. Werner believes that this work represents a major step forward leveraging interference-enhanced magnetism in Mie resonators for high-performance ultracompact linear and nonlinear meta-optics.

Future work will focus on the realization of transmission-mode metadevices exhibiting an interference-enhanced magnetic Mie resonance. Such devices can be implemented by custom-designing their reflection and transmission bands using a Bragg mirror.

Schematic of the proposed meta-optical systems as an effective platform for low-pump power ultrafast nonlinear optics.