Optical bistability with film-coupled metasurfaces

Zhiqin Huang, Alexandre Baron, Stephane Larouche, Christos Argyropoulos, David R. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Metasurfaces comprising arrays of film-coupled, nanopatch antennas are a promising platform for low-energy, all-optical switches. The large field enhancements that can be achieved in the dielectric spacer region between the nano-patch and the metallic substrate can substantially enhance optical nonlinear processes. Here we consider a dielectric material that exhibits an optical Kerr effect as the spacer layer and numerically calculate the optical bistability of a metasurface using the finite element method (FEM). We expect the proposed method to be highly accurate compared with other numerical approaches, such as those based on graphical post-processing techniques, because it self-consistently solves for both the spatial field distribution and the intensity-dependent refractive index distribution of the spacer layer. This method offers an alternative approach to finite-difference time-domain (FDTD) modeling. We use this numerical tool to design a metasurface optical switch and our optimized design exhibits exceptionally low switching intensity of 33 kW/cm2, corresponding to switching energy on the order of tens of attojoules per resonator, a value much smaller than those found for most devices reported in the literature. We propose our method as a tool for designing all-optical switches and modulators.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5638-5641
Number of pages4
JournalOptics Letters
Issue number23
StatePublished - Dec 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics


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