Giant nonlinear response at a plasmonic nanofocus drives efficient four-wave mixing

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Science  01 Dec 2017:
Vol. 358, Issue 6367, pp. 1179-1181
DOI: 10.1126/science.aao1467

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A plasmonic route for mixing waves

Nonlinear optics typically requires photons to interact over distances spanning hundreds or thousands of wavelengths. Nonlinear optical devices therefore tend to be bulk components. Nielsen et al. used a polymer material with a high nonlinear coefficient that they embedded within a plasmonic cavity to show that the interaction length scale could be reduced dramatically. The plasmonic cavity focused the light down to the nanoscale, providing an intense electromagnetic field that induced the nonlinear process of four-wave mixing in the polymer. The technique provides a versatile platform for compact nonlinear optical devices.

Science, this issue p. 1179


Efficient optical frequency mixing typically must accumulate over large interaction lengths because nonlinear responses in natural materials are inherently weak. This limits the efficiency of mixing processes owing to the requirement of phase matching. Here, we report efficient four-wave mixing (FWM) over micrometer-scale interaction lengths at telecommunications wavelengths on silicon. We used an integrated plasmonic gap waveguide that strongly confines light within a nonlinear organic polymer. The gap waveguide intensifies light by nanofocusing it to a mode cross-section of a few tens of nanometers, thus generating a nonlinear response so strong that efficient FWM accumulates over wavelength-scale distances. This technique opens up nonlinear optics to a regime of relaxed phase matching, with the possibility of compact, broadband, and efficient frequency mixing integrated with silicon photonics.

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