Applied Physics

Fast Optical Switching

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Science  22 Aug 2003:
Vol. 301, Issue 5636, pp. 1019-1021
DOI: 10.1126/science.301.5636.1019e

Communication networks that are based on optics must be able to guide light without appreciable losses and to switch the light on and off, ideally at a rapid rate. Although each function can be performed well by individual components, there is a drive for further improvement by seeking an integrated approach where both functions can be achieved by a single component. One path has been to develop semiconductor photonic crystals, where the exceptional light-guiding properties of the photonic crystal are combined with the nonlinear optical properties of the growth material. Bristow et al. use a pump-probe technique to excite a transient nonequilibrium carrier distribution in a two-dimensional photonic crystal made from AlGaAs, and they demonstrate ultrafast photoinduced changes in the reflectivity at a wavelength of 882 nm. The measured response time of less than 10 ps reveals the potential such semiconductor photonic crystals hold for optical communication. — ISO

Appl. Phys. Lett. 83, 851 (2003).

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