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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/J016918/1
Title: Complex nanophotonic and plasmonic networks for ultrafast optical devices
Principal Investigator: Muskens, Professor O
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Sch of Physics and Astronomy
Organisation: University of Southampton
Scheme: EPSRC Fellowship
Starts: 01 September 2012 Ends: 31 August 2017 Value (£): 1,071,379
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Optical Devices & Subsystems
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
No relevance to Underpinning Sectors
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
13 Mar 2012 EPSRC ICT Fellowship Interviews - March 2012 Announced
01 Feb 2012 EPSRC ICT Responsive Mode - Feb 2012 Deferred
Summary on Grant Application Form
Photonic technologies are playing an increasingly important role in our society with revolutionary applications ranging from optical data storage to broadband fibre internet. As electronics and nanophotonics are rapidly converging toward one hybrid nanotechnology, important open challenges arise related to the routing and control of light in integrated optoelectronic circuits. In this project, a conceptually new approach toward reconfigurable and switchable optical circuits will be developed. We choose the widely-used silicon-based nanophotonics platform. Our new approach will be enabled by the integration of photonic waveguides with chalcogenide phase-change materials that are used in rewritable DVDs. Reversible optical writing of patterns into the phase-change layer will achieve reconfigurable devices for routing of optical signals on a chip.

We will take the concept of phase-change technology to the next level by exploiting the technology for studying light transport in fundamentally new types of nanophotonic devices inspired by mesoscopic physics. We will design two-dimensional photonic layers in which light is controlled by the coherent mixing of a number of possible light paths. The reconfigurable phase-change layer will be used as a wavefront shaper to send light through such photonic layers etched in the waveguide. Subsequently, a pattern of ultrafast light pulses will be projected onto the waveguide to produce an ultrafast modulation of the independent light paths. This pattern will be used to achieve ultrafast switching devices through a new process of ultrafast demixing, which is fundamentally different from conventional switching devices. These processes will be facilitated by the dramatic enhancement of the Kerr optical nonlinearity by the chalcogenide cladding, by the use of nanoplasmonic actuators, and through design of advanced nanostructures, such as photonic graphene, thereby exploiting the analogies of light with solid-state quantum electronics.

Our studies include the use of plasmonic elements as nanoscale actuators to control the chalcogenide light modulator. Conversively, we will investigate how the hybrid plasmonic-chalcogenide networks can be used to achieve optical memristors, one of the building blocks of neural architectures. Such optical elements would be a first step toward routing of signals in a brain-like manner, which could lead to radically new modes of distribution and processing of information.
Key Findings
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Organisation Website: http://www.soton.ac.uk