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Phase-change materials for non-volatile photonic applications

M. Wuttig, H. Bhaskaran, and T. Taubner

Phase-change materials (PCMs) provide a unique combination of properties. On transformation from the amorphous to crystalline state, their optical properties change drastically. Short optical or electrical pulses can be utilized to switch between these states, making PCMs attractive for photonic applications. In Nature Photonics recent developments in PCMs are reviewed and the potential for all-photonic memories is evaluated. Towards this goal, the progress and existing challenges to realize waveguides with stepwise adjustable transmission are presented. Colour-rendering and nanopixel displays form another interesting application. Finally, nanophotonic applications based on plasmonic nanostructures are introduced. They provide reconfigurable, non-volatile functionality enabling manipulation and control of light. Requirements and perspectives to successfully implement PCMs in emerging areas of photonics are discussed.

Phase-change materials (PCMs) provide a unique combination of properties. On transformation from the amorphous to crystalline state, their optical properties change drastically. Short optical or electrical pulses can be utilized to switch between these states, making PCMs attractive for photonic applications. In Nature Photonics recent developments in PCMs are reviewed and the potential for all-photonic memories is evaluated. Towards this goal, the progress and existing challenges to realize waveguides with stepwise adjustable transmission are presented. Colour-rendering and nanopixel displays form another interesting application. Finally, nanophotonic applications based on plasmonic nanostructures are introduced. They provide reconfigurable, non-volatile functionality enabling manipulation and control of light. Requirements and perspectives to successfully implement PCMs in emerging areas of photonics are discussed.


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