The scaling of active photonic devices to deep-submicron length-scales has been hampered by the fundamental law of diffraction and the absence of materials with sufficiently strong electrooptic effects. Here, we demonstrate a solid state electro-optical switching mechanism that can operate in the visible spectral range with an active volume that is well below the free-space diffraction limit and comparable to the size of the smallest active electronic components. . The switching mechanism relies on electrochemically displacing atoms inside the nanometer-scale gap between two crossed metallic wires forming a crosspoint junction. Such junctions afford extreme light concentration and display singular optical behavior upon formation of a conductive channel. We illustrate how this effect can be used to actively tune the resonances of a plasmonic antenna. The tuning mechanism is analyzed using a combination of electrical and optical measurements as well as electron energy loss (EELS) in a scanning transmission electron microscope (STEM).
Mark L. Brongersma, "Electrical tuning of an optical antenna (Conference Presentation)," Proc. SPIE 10112, Photonic and Phononic Properties of Engineered Nanostructures VII, 1011218 (Presented at SPIE OPTO: February 01, 2017; Published: 28 April 2017); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2260477.5395679914001.
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