Reconfigurable Photonics based on Broadband Low-loss Optical Phase Change Materials
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Optical phase change materials (O-PCMs), a unique group of materials featuring drastic optical property contrast upon solid-state phase transition, have found widespread adoption in photonic switches and routers, reconfigurable meta-optics, reflective display, and optical neuromorphic computers. Current phase change materials, such as Ge-Sb-Te (GST), exhibit large contrast of both refractive index (Δn) and optical loss (Δk), simultaneously. The coupling of both optical properties fundamentally limits the function and performance of many potential applications. We report a new class of O-PCMs, Ge-Sb-Se-Te (GSST) which breaks this traditional coupling. Guided by first-principle computational designs, the compositionally optimized alloy Ge₂Sb₂Se₄Te₁ claims an unprecedented material figure of merit (FOM) over two orders of magnitude larger than that of classical GST alloys, benefiting from blue-shifted interband transitions as well as minimal free carrier absorptions, as confirmed by Hall measurements. In-situ heating TEM and XRD measurements are carried out to confirm and understand the crystal structures of Ge₂Sb₂Se₄Te₁. We show that the optimized alloy, Ge₂Sb₂Se₄Te₁, combining broadband low loss (1 – 18.5 μm), large optical contrast (Δn = 2.0), and significantly improved glass forming ability, enables an entirely new field of integrated and free-space photonic applications. Based on the extraordinary optical and switching properties of this new O-PCM, GSST, we are able to demonstrate an entirely new field of integrated and free-space photonic applications with record-low losses and nonvolatile reconfigurable switching. Nonvolatile optical switches with both narrow-band and broadband responses were realized based on GSS4T1. Their record low loss and switching contrast, derived from the exceptional FOM of the material, qualify the device as a useful building block for scalable photonic networks. A transient directional coupler is proposed and realized to facilitate wafer-scale photonic testing. Material cycling lifetime is also investigated by tracking the reflectance contrast between the amorphous and crystalline state on a single pixel over 1,000 cycles. For the first time, large-scale electrically-driven active metasurface based on PCMs are demonstrated with the geometry-optimized metal-heater platform. Devices including reconfigurable spectral filters with world record large spectral tuning range and metasurface deflectors are demonstrated.
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Materials Science and Engineering
Massachusetts Institute of Technology