Possible to make ultra-fast optical switches

The researchers of the progetto Graphene Flagship demonstrated for the first time a revolutionary property of two-dimensional materials: the possibility of making ultra-fast optical switches, capable of turning light beams on and off at previously unimaginable speeds.

Since the discovery of graphene, the thinnest material in existence because it has the thickness of a single layer of atoms, numerous so-called two-dimensional materials have been introduced, also of atomic thickness, which show extraordinary physical properties and allow the creation of new technologies . Researchers from the Friedrich Schiller University Jena, in collaboration with the Politecnico di Milano, showed that a two-dimensional semiconductor, MOS2, has the ability to generate light at the second harmonic with optically controlled efficiency.

The generation of optical harmonics – explains the Politecnico di Milano – is a nonlinear optical process that creates new colors when high intensity laser light interacts with a material. In particular, the second harmonic generation produces light whose frequency is double that of the incident light, therefore starting from the invisible infrared light it can produce an intense visible light. Nonlinear optical processes find numerous practical applications in laser technologies, materials processing and telecommunications. These materials, despite their infinitesimal thickness, have a surprisingly high nonlinear optical response.

The partners of the Graphene Flagship project have demonstrated for the first time that, by appropriately exploiting the symmetry properties of the material, the second harmonic generation process in MoS2 can be controlled very effectively by applying a pulse of light. ultra-short, called gate. “The visible color light generated by MoS2 can be turned on or off in a very simple way by means of the gate pulse, on time scales of less than one millionth of a millionth of a second”, says Prof. Giulio Cerullo of the Physics Department of the Polytechnic. from Milan.

The ability to optically control, through the gate pulse, the second harmonic generation in MoS2, opens the door to new technological applications, such as the realization of optical communications devices that work on a very wide frequency range, allowing the processing and transmission of a very large amount of data at very high speed. These results confirm that the two-dimensional materials, studied within the Graphene Flagship project, have very interesting physical properties that will allow the realization of radically innovative technologies.

The Graphene Flagship was launched by the European Union in 2013 as the largest research initiative ever. With a budget of € 1 billion, it represents a new form of joint and coordinated research initiative on an unprecedented scale. The overall objective of the Graphene Flagship is to bring graphene and two-dimensional materials from academic laboratories to impact European industry and society over a decade, facilitating economic growth and creating new jobs. Through an academic-industrial consortium of over 150 partners in over 20 European countries, the research effort covers the entire value chain, from materials production to components and systems integration, and addresses a number of objectives specific that exploit the unique properties of graphene and two-dimensional materials.

Source: RSS DiariodelWeb.it Innovazione by www.diariodelweb.it.

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