It is two decades since the first reports that the insulator-to-metal transition (IMT) in vanadium dioxide (VO2) occurred on an ultrafast time scale, followed by growing interest in the potential use of this strongly correlated oxide in a variety of switching schemes. At first glance, VO2 would seem to be ideally suited to a variety of applications in electro-optics and all optical switching: The IMT occurs on a sub-picosecond time scale; it is fully reversible and has a large dielectric contrast at wavelengths in the near- to mid-infrared; and the material itself is fully compatible with many optical and electronic materials of interest. However, there are also well-known difficulties, chief among them the fact that the IMT, if fully completed, is accompanied by a structural phase transition (SPT) that requires nanoseconds to return from the rutile, metallic state to the monoclinic insulating ground state – thus essentially limiting switching speeds to time scales similar to those in amorphous-to-crystalline transitions in chalcogenide glasses. Here we discuss the ways in which the very considerable advantages of VO2 as a modulating or threshold switch can be amplified by deploying it appropriately in silicon photonic modulators, switchable metasurfaces, plasmonic heterostructures, and two-dimensional materials that can support phonon polariton optics. We focus particularly on ways of tailoring the physical properties of the VO2 component of a system to meet the requirements of operating in particular wavelength regions, meeting specific threshold requirements and choosing electrical or optical initiation of the IMT.
Richard F. Haglund Jr., Joshua Caldwell, Jason Valentine, and Sharon Weiss, "Capitalizing on the Mott transition in vanadium dioxide for ultrafast modulators (Conference Presentation)," Proc. SPIE 10927, Photonic and Phononic Properties of Engineered Nanostructures IX, 109271C (Presented at SPIE OPTO: February 06, 2019; Published: 8 March 2019); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2516412.6011672309001.
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