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Atomic Scale Plasmonic Switch

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posted on 13.01.2016, 00:00 by Alexandros Emboras, Jens Niegemann, Ping Ma, Christian Haffner, Andreas Pedersen, Mathieu Luisier, Christian Hafner, Thomas Schimmel, Juerg Leuthold
The atom sets an ultimate scaling limit to Moore’s law in the electronics industry. While electronics research already explores atomic scales devices, photonics research still deals with devices at the micrometer scale. Here we demonstrate that photonic scaling, similar to electronics, is only limited by the atom. More precisely, we introduce an electrically controlled plasmonic switch operating at the atomic scale. The switch allows for fast and reproducible switching by means of the relocation of an individual or, at most, a few atoms in a plasmonic cavity. Depending on the location of the atom either of two distinct plasmonic cavity resonance states are supported. Experimental results show reversible digital optical switching with an extinction ratio of 9.2 dB and operation at room temperature up to MHz with femtojoule (fJ) power consumption for a single switch operation. This demonstration of an integrated quantum device allowing to control photons at the atomic level opens intriguing perspectives for a fully integrated and highly scalable chip platform, a platform where optics, electronics, and memory may be controlled at the single-atom level.