Optical Bistability in a GaAs Etalon
The first observation of optical bistability in a passive semiconductor etalon is reviewed. The bistable etalon consists of a GaA1As-GaAs-GaA1As molecular-beam epitaxially-grown sandwich with 90% reflectivity coatings. The bistability is primarily dispersive with the nonlinear refractive index arising from light-induced changes in exciton absorption. Using light of frequency just below the exciton peak, we observed bistability from 5 to 120°K. The holding intensity was about 1 mW/μm2, and switching times of < 1 ns turn-on and 40 ns turn-off have been achieved. This device illustrates the use of a material resonance and optical cavity to reduce the holding intensity and switching energy. Further reductions are anticipated by further miniaturization and device development. The possibility of utilizing bistable devices in high-speed optical processing and computing motivates the development of these semiconductor etalons.
KeywordsNonlinear Refractive Index Optical Bistability Exciton Absorption Material Resonance GaAs Sample
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