Single-plasmon thermo-optical switching in graphene

Joel D. Cox*, F. Javier García De Abajo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

While plasmons in noble metal nanostructures enable strong light-matter interactions on commensurate length scales, the overabundance of free electrons in these systems inhibits their tunability by weak external stimuli. Countering this limitation, the linear electronic dispersion in graphene endows the two-dimensional material with both an enhanced sensitivity to doping electron density, enabling active tunability of its highly confined plasmon resonances, and a very low electronic heat capacity that renders its thermo-optical response extraordinarily large. Here we show that these properties combined enables a substantial optical modulation in graphene nanostructures from the energy associated with just one of their supported plasmons. We base our analysis on realistic, complementary classical and quantum-mechanical simulations, which reveal that the energy of a single plasmon, absorbed in a small, moderately doped graphene nanoisland, can sufficiently modify its electronic temperature and chemical potential to produce unity-order modulation of the optical response within subpicosecond time scales, effectively shifting or damping the original plasmon absorption peak and thereby blockading subsequent excitation of a second plasmon. The proposed thermo-optical single-plasmon blockade consists in a viable ultralow power all-optical switching mechanism for doped graphene nanoislands, while their combination with quantum emitters could yield applications in biological sensing and quantum nano-optics.

Original languageEnglish
JournalNano Letters
Volume19
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)3743-3750
ISSN1530-6984
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 12. Jun 2019

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Graphite
optical switching
Graphene
graphene
Plasmons
plasmons
Nanostructures
electronics
Light modulation
light modulation
Chemical potential
Precious metals
noble metals
stimuli
free electrons
Specific heat
Carrier concentration
unity
Optics
emitters

Keywords

  • All-optical switching
  • graphene plasmonics
  • optical modulation
  • quantum optics
  • single-photon devices
  • thermo-optical response

Cite this

Cox, Joel D. ; García De Abajo, F. Javier. / Single-plasmon thermo-optical switching in graphene. In: Nano Letters. 2019 ; Vol. 19, No. 6. pp. 3743-3750.
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Single-plasmon thermo-optical switching in graphene. / Cox, Joel D.; García De Abajo, F. Javier.

In: Nano Letters, Vol. 19, No. 6, 12.06.2019, p. 3743-3750.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - Single-plasmon thermo-optical switching in graphene

AU - Cox, Joel D.

AU - García De Abajo, F. Javier

PY - 2019/6/12

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N2 - While plasmons in noble metal nanostructures enable strong light-matter interactions on commensurate length scales, the overabundance of free electrons in these systems inhibits their tunability by weak external stimuli. Countering this limitation, the linear electronic dispersion in graphene endows the two-dimensional material with both an enhanced sensitivity to doping electron density, enabling active tunability of its highly confined plasmon resonances, and a very low electronic heat capacity that renders its thermo-optical response extraordinarily large. Here we show that these properties combined enables a substantial optical modulation in graphene nanostructures from the energy associated with just one of their supported plasmons. We base our analysis on realistic, complementary classical and quantum-mechanical simulations, which reveal that the energy of a single plasmon, absorbed in a small, moderately doped graphene nanoisland, can sufficiently modify its electronic temperature and chemical potential to produce unity-order modulation of the optical response within subpicosecond time scales, effectively shifting or damping the original plasmon absorption peak and thereby blockading subsequent excitation of a second plasmon. The proposed thermo-optical single-plasmon blockade consists in a viable ultralow power all-optical switching mechanism for doped graphene nanoislands, while their combination with quantum emitters could yield applications in biological sensing and quantum nano-optics.

AB - While plasmons in noble metal nanostructures enable strong light-matter interactions on commensurate length scales, the overabundance of free electrons in these systems inhibits their tunability by weak external stimuli. Countering this limitation, the linear electronic dispersion in graphene endows the two-dimensional material with both an enhanced sensitivity to doping electron density, enabling active tunability of its highly confined plasmon resonances, and a very low electronic heat capacity that renders its thermo-optical response extraordinarily large. Here we show that these properties combined enables a substantial optical modulation in graphene nanostructures from the energy associated with just one of their supported plasmons. We base our analysis on realistic, complementary classical and quantum-mechanical simulations, which reveal that the energy of a single plasmon, absorbed in a small, moderately doped graphene nanoisland, can sufficiently modify its electronic temperature and chemical potential to produce unity-order modulation of the optical response within subpicosecond time scales, effectively shifting or damping the original plasmon absorption peak and thereby blockading subsequent excitation of a second plasmon. The proposed thermo-optical single-plasmon blockade consists in a viable ultralow power all-optical switching mechanism for doped graphene nanoislands, while their combination with quantum emitters could yield applications in biological sensing and quantum nano-optics.

KW - All-optical switching

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KW - single-photon devices

KW - thermo-optical response

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