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      Probing the electrical switching of a memristive optical antenna by STEM EELS

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          Abstract

          The scaling of active photonic devices to deep-submicron length scales has been hampered by the fundamental diffraction limit and the absence of materials with sufficiently strong electro-optic effects. Plasmonics is providing new opportunities to circumvent this challenge. Here we provide evidence for a solid-state electro-optical switching mechanism that can operate in the visible spectral range with an active volume of less than (5 nm) 3 or ∼10 −6λ 3, comparable to the size of the smallest electronic components. The switching mechanism relies on electrochemically displacing metal atoms inside the nanometre-scale gap to electrically connect two crossed metallic wires forming a cross-point junction. These junctions afford extreme light concentration and display singular optical behaviour upon formation of a conductive channel. The active tuning of plasmonic antennas attached to such junctions is analysed using a combination of electrical and optical measurements as well as electron energy loss spectroscopy in a scanning transmission electron microscope.

          Abstract

          Scaling of photonic devices requires materials with sufficiently strong elecro-optic effects. Here, Schoen et al. demonstrate and analyze single electrically induced switching events that can operate in the visible with a small active volume using electron energy loss in a scanning transmission electron microscope.

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          Most cited references 45

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          The missing memristor found.

          Anyone who ever took an electronics laboratory class will be familiar with the fundamental passive circuit elements: the resistor, the capacitor and the inductor. However, in 1971 Leon Chua reasoned from symmetry arguments that there should be a fourth fundamental element, which he called a memristor (short for memory resistor). Although he showed that such an element has many interesting and valuable circuit properties, until now no one has presented either a useful physical model or an example of a memristor. Here we show, using a simple analytical example, that memristance arises naturally in nanoscale systems in which solid-state electronic and ionic transport are coupled under an external bias voltage. These results serve as the foundation for understanding a wide range of hysteretic current-voltage behaviour observed in many nanoscale electronic devices that involve the motion of charged atomic or molecular species, in particular certain titanium dioxide cross-point switches.
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            Nanoionics-based resistive switching memories.

            Many metal-insulator-metal systems show electrically induced resistive switching effects and have therefore been proposed as the basis for future non-volatile memories. They combine the advantages of Flash and DRAM (dynamic random access memories) while avoiding their drawbacks, and they might be highly scalable. Here we propose a coarse-grained classification into primarily thermal, electrical or ion-migration-induced switching mechanisms. The ion-migration effects are coupled to redox processes which cause the change in resistance. They are subdivided into cation-migration cells, based on the electrochemical growth and dissolution of metallic filaments, and anion-migration cells, typically realized with transition metal oxides as the insulator, in which electronically conducting paths of sub-oxides are formed and removed by local redox processes. From this insight, we take a brief look into molecular switching systems. Finally, we discuss chip architecture and scaling issues.
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              A graphene-based broadband optical modulator.

              Integrated optical modulators with high modulation speed, small footprint and large optical bandwidth are poised to be the enabling devices for on-chip optical interconnects. Semiconductor modulators have therefore been heavily researched over the past few years. However, the device footprint of silicon-based modulators is of the order of millimetres, owing to its weak electro-optical properties. Germanium and compound semiconductors, on the other hand, face the major challenge of integration with existing silicon electronics and photonics platforms. Integrating silicon modulators with high-quality-factor optical resonators increases the modulation strength, but these devices suffer from intrinsic narrow bandwidth and require sophisticated optical design; they also have stringent fabrication requirements and limited temperature tolerances. Finding a complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS)-compatible material with adequate modulation speed and strength has therefore become a task of not only scientific interest, but also industrial importance. Here we experimentally demonstrate a broadband, high-speed, waveguide-integrated electroabsorption modulator based on monolayer graphene. By electrically tuning the Fermi level of the graphene sheet, we demonstrate modulation of the guided light at frequencies over 1 GHz, together with a broad operation spectrum that ranges from 1.35 to 1.6 µm under ambient conditions. The high modulation efficiency of graphene results in an active device area of merely 25 µm(2), which is among the smallest to date. This graphene-based optical modulation mechanism, with combined advantages of compact footprint, low operation voltage and ultrafast modulation speed across a broad range of wavelengths, can enable novel architectures for on-chip optical communications.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Nat Commun
                Nat Commun
                Nature Communications
                Nature Publishing Group
                2041-1723
                14 July 2016
                2016
                : 7
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Geballe Laboratory for Advanced Materials, Stanford University , Stanford, California 94305-4045, USA
                Author notes
                Article
                ncomms12162
                10.1038/ncomms12162
                1511.01457
                Copyright © 2016, Nature Publishing Group, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited. All Rights Reserved.

                This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in the credit line; if the material is not included under the Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission from the license holder to reproduce the material. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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