Limiting optical diodes enabled by the phase transition of vanadium dioxide.
A limiting optical diode is an asymmetric nonlinear device that is bidirectionally transparent at low power, but becomes opaque when illuminated by sufficiently intense light incident from a particular direction. We explore the use of a phase-transition material, vanadium dioxide (VO2), as an active element of limiting optical diodes. The VO2 phase transition can be triggered by optical absorption, resulting in a change in refractive index orders of magnitude larger than what can be achieved with conventional nonlinearities. As a result, a limiting optical diode based on incident-direction-dependent absorption in a VO2 layer can be very thin, and can function at low powers without field enhancement, resulting in broadband operation. We demonstrate a simple thin-film limiting optical diode comprising a transparent substrate, a VO2 film, and a semi-transparent metallic layer. For sufficiently high incident intensity, our proof-of-concept device realizes broadband asymmetric transmission across the near infrared, and is approximately ten times thinner than the free-space wavelength.
Publisher URL: http://arxiv.org/abs/1801.06728