The development of low-loss optical phase change materials (O-PCMs) promises to enable a plethora of nonvolatile integrated photonic applications. However, the relatively large optical constants change between different states of calls for a set of new design rationales. Here we report a non-perturbative design that enables low-loss device operation beyond the traditional figure-of-merit limit. The basic design rationale is to engineer the light propagation path through the OPCMs when it is in the low-loss amorphous state, and divert light away from the lossy crystalline state leveraging the large mode modification induced by the O-PCM phase transition. Following this approach, we demonstrate broadband photonic switches with significantly enhanced performances compared to current state-of-the-art.
Optical phase change materials (O-PCMs) are a unique class of materials which exhibit extraordinarily large optical property change (e.g. refractive index change > 1) when undergoing a solid-state phase transition. Traditional O-PCMs suffer from large optical losses even in their dielectric states, which fundamentally limits the performance of optical devices based on the materials. To resolve the issue, we have recently demonstrated a new O-PCM Ge-Sb-Se-Te (GSST) with broadband low loss characteristics. In this talk, we will review an array of reconfigurable photonic devices enabled by the low-loss O-PCM, including nonvolatile waveguide switches with unprecedented low-loss and high-contrast performance, free-space light modulators, bi-stable reconfigurable metasurfaces, and transient couplers facilitating waferscale device probing and characterizations.
The dramatic optical property change of optical phase change materials (O-PCMs) between their amorphous and crystalline states potentially allows the realization of reconfigurable photonics devices with low power consumption, such as optical switches and routers, reconfigurable meta-optics, displays, and photonic memories. However, conventional O-PCMs, such as VO2 and Ge2Sb2Te5, are inherently plagued by their excessive optical losses even in dielectric states, limiting their optical performance and hence application space. In this talk, we present the development of a new group of O-PCMs and their implementations in novel photonic devices. Ge-Sb-Se-Te (GSST), obtained by partially substituting Te with Se in traditional GST alloys, feature unprecedented broadband optical transparency covering the telecommunication bands to LWIR. Capitalizing on the dramatically-enhanced optical performance, novel non-volatile, reconfigurable on-chip photonics devices and architectures are demonstrated. GSST-integrated Si photonics based on the material innovation and novel “non-perturbative” designs exhibit significantly improved switching performance over state-of-the-art GST-based approaches. The technology is further scalable to realize non-blocking matrix switches with arbitrary network complexity, paving the path towards high performance reconfigurable photonics chips.