The University of Southampton

Phase change chalcogenide-based metasurfaces and optical devices

Published: 22 January 2016

Research led by the University of Southampton’s Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC) revealing a new and flexible platform for creating rewritable optical devices has been published in Nature Photonics.

The ORC’s Nanophotonics and Metamaterials Group has been working with colleagues at the University of Southampton’s Centre for Photonic Metamaterials and Institute for Life Sciences (IfLS), as well as the Institute of Materials Research and Engineering at the Agency for Science, Technology and Research, in Singapore; and the Centre for Disruptive Photonic Technologies at Nanyang Technological University, in Singapore.

Featuring on the front cover of Nature Photonics, the paper, entitled Optically reconfigurable metasurfaces and photonic devices based on phase change materials, shows how researchers have developed a new way of using chalcogenide glass that is currently used in rewritable CDs and DVDs. 

Dr Edward Rogers, Research Fellow in the Nanophotonics and Metamaterials Group said: “In conventional applications of the phase change technology, as, for example, in rewritable CD and DVD data storage devices, laser pulses are used to switch the phase change medium between two states – ordered and disordered. However, by using a tightly controlled series of ultra-short optical pulses, the glass can be set into a range of different states, not just two.

“This allows us to build optical devices with smoothly varying properties across the surface, to erase them and then to rewrite a different structure, all on the same piece of optical canvas.

“This technology can even be used to write complex structures like lenses, diffraction gratings, holograms and advance resonant structures known as metamaterials, directly into a phase change chalcogenide glass film.

“We can modify, build, erase and rebuild key optical components allowing innovative approaches to constructing adaptable and reconfigurable optical systems.

“This new development creates interesting opportunities in nanophotonics and high density storage.”

To read the paper in full visit Nature Photonics.

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