Purcell effect for active tuning of light scattering from semiconductor optical antennas

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Science  15 Dec 2017:
Vol. 358, Issue 6369, pp. 1407-1410
DOI: 10.1126/science.aao5371

Tuning the scattering of light

The development of nanophotonic technology relies on the ability to control and manipulate light at the nanometer scale. Most devices developed to date have been passive structures or have shown only modest changes in optical properties under an external stimulus. Holsteen et al. tuned the resonant scattering wavelength of silicon nanowires across the entire visible spectrum simply by adjusting the height of the nanowire above a metallic mirror. This nano-electromechanical system illustrates the potential for developing active optical platforms.

Science, this issue p. 1407


Subwavelength, high–refractive index semiconductor nanostructures support optical resonances that endow them with valuable antenna functions. Control over the intrinsic properties, including their complex refractive index, size, and geometry, has been used to manipulate fundamental light absorption, scattering, and emission processes in nanostructured optoelectronic devices. In this study, we harness the electric and magnetic resonances of such antennas to achieve a very strong dependence of the optical properties on the external environment. Specifically, we illustrate how the resonant scattering wavelength of single silicon nanowires is tunable across the entire visible spectrum by simply moving the height of the nanowires above a metallic mirror. We apply this concept by using a nanoelectromechanical platform to demonstrate active tuning.

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