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The University of Southampton
Institute for Life Sciences

Phase change chalcogenide-based metasurfaces and optical devices

Published: 1 February 2016
Discoveries in Photonics

Research led by the University of Southampton’s Optoelectronics Research Centre, which reveals 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 with the Institute for Life Sciences (IfLS), as well as the Institute of Materials Research and Engineering at the Agency of 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 series of tightly-controlled 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 re-write 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 re-build 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 full paper, visit Nature Photonics.

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