Jun 2020, Volume 13 Issue 2

Cover illustration

  • All-optical modulators to process optical signals without electro-optical conversion play an essential role in the next generation ultrafast, ultralow-power-consumption optical information processing. Graphene, with high nonlinearity and ultrashort relaxation time, is an emerging material for high-performance all-optical modulation. The switching time of graphene-based all-optical modulators ranges from milliseconds to femtoseconds. The modulation mechanisms utilized could be [Detail] ...

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    Jianji DONG, Zhipei SUN

    Graphene is a two-dimensional material showing excellent properties for utilization in transparent electrodes; it has low sheet resistance, high optical transmission and is flexible. Whereas the most common transparent electrode material, tin-doped indium-oxide (ITO) is brittle, less transparent and expensive, which limit its compatibility in flexible electronics as well as in low-cost devices. Here we review two large-area fabrication methods for graphene based transparent electrodes for industry: liquid exfoliation and low-pressure chemical vapor deposition (CVD). We discuss the basic methodologies behind the technologies with an emphasis on optical and electrical properties of recent results. State-of-the-art methods for liquid exfoliation have as a figure of merit an electrical and optical conductivity ratio of 43.5, slightly over the minimum required for industry of 35, while CVD reaches as high as 419.

    Chuyu ZHONG, Junying LI, Hongtao LIN

    All-optical devices, which are utilized to process optical signals without electro-optical conversion, play an essential role in the next generation ultrafast, ultralow power-consumption optical information processing systems. To satisfy the performance requirement, nonlinear optical materials that are associated with fast response, high nonlinearity, broad wavelength operation, low optical loss, low fabrication cost, and integration compatibility with optical components are required. Graphene is a promising candidate, particularly considering its electrically or optically tunable optical properties, ultrafast large nonlinearity, and high integration compatibility with various nanostructures. Thus far, three all-optical modulation systems utilize graphene, namely free-space modulators, fiber-based modulators, and on-chip modulators. This paper aims to provide a broad view of state-of-the-art researches on the graphene-based all-optical modulation systems. The performances of different devices are reviewed and compared to present a comprehensive analysis and perspective of graphene-based all-optical modulation devices.

    Yuhan YAO, Zhao CHENG, Jianji DONG, Xinliang ZHANG

    Applications of optical switches, such as signal routing and data-intensive computing, are critical in optical interconnects and optical computing. Integrated optical switches enabled by two-dimensional (2D) materials and beyond, such as graphene and black phosphorus, have demonstrated many advantages in terms of speed and energy consumption compared to their conventional silicon-based counterparts. Here we review the state-of-the-art of optical switches enabled by 2D materials and beyond and organize them into several tables. The performance tables and future projections show the frontiers of optical switches fabricated from 2D materials and beyond, providing researchers with an overview of this field and enabling them to identify existing challenges and predict promising research directions.

    Haoran MU, Zeke LIU, Xiaozhi BAO, Zhichen WAN, Guanyu LIU, Xiangping LI, Huaiyu SHAO, Guichuan XING, Babar SHABBIR, Lei LI, Tian SUN, Shaojuan LI, Wanli MA, Qiaoliang BAO

    Heavily doped colloidal plasmonic nanocrystals have attracted great attention because of their lower and adjustable free carrier densities and tunable localized surface plasmonic resonance bands in the spectral range from near-infra to mid-infra wavelengths. With its plasmon-enhanced optical nonlinearity, this new family of plasmonic materials shows a huge potential for nonlinear optical applications, such as ultrafast switching, nonlinear sensing, and pulse laser generation. Cu3xP nanocrystals were previously shown to have a strong saturable absorption at the plasmonic resonance, which enabled high-energy Q-switched fiber lasers with 6.1 µs pulse duration. This work demonstrates that both high-quality mode-locked and Q-switched pulses at 1560 nm can be generated by evanescently incorporating two-dimensional (2D) Cu3xP nanocrystals onto a D-shaped optical fiber as an effective saturable absorber. The 3 dB bandwidth of the mode-locking optical spectrum is as broad as 7.3 nm, and the corresponding pulse duration can reach 423 fs. The repetition rate of the Q-switching pulses is higher than 80 kHz. Moreover, the largest pulse energy is more than 120 µJ. Note that laser characteristics are highly stable and repeatable based on the results of over 20 devices. This work may trigger further investigations on heavily doped plasmonic 2D nanocrystals as a next-generation, inexpensive, and solution-processed element for fascinating photonics and optoelectronics applications.

    Xiaohui LI, Jiajun PENG, Ruisheng LIU, Jishu LIU, Tianci FENG, Abdul Qyyum, Cunxiao GAO, Mingyuan XUE, Jian ZHANG

    In this paper, we have proposed and demonstrated the generation of passively mode-locked pulses and dissipative soliton resonance in an erbium-doped fiber laser based on Fe3O4 nanoparticles as saturable absorbers. We obtained self-starting mode-locked pulses with fundamental repetition frequency of 7.69 MHz and center wavelength of 1561 nm. The output of a pulsed laser has spectral width of 0.69 nm and pulse duration of 14 ns with rectangular pulse profile at the pump power of 190 mW. As far as we know, this is the first time that Fe3O4 nanoparticles have been developed as low-dimensional materials for passive mode-locking with rectangular pulse. Our experiments have confirmed that Fe3O4 has a wide prospect as a nonlinear photonics device for ultrafast fiber laser applications.

    Santosh K. GUPTA, Yuanbing MAO

    This review article highlights the exploration of inorganic nanoscintillators for various scientific and technological applications in the fields of radiation detection, bioimaging, and medical theranostics. Various aspects of nanoscintillators pertaining to their fundamental principles, mechanism, structure, applications are briefly discussed. The mechanisms of inorganic nanoscintillators are explained based on the fundamental principles, instrumentation involved, and associated physical and chemical phenomena, etc. Subsequently, the promise of nanoscintillators over the existing single-crystal scintillators and other types of scintillators is presented, enabling their development for multifunctional applications. The processes governing the scintillation mechanisms in nanodomains, such as surface, structure, quantum, and dielectric confinement, are explained to reveal the underlying nanoscale scintillation phenomena. Additionally, suitable examples are provided to explain these processes based on the published data. Furthermore, we attempt to explain the different types of inorganic nanoscintillators in terms of the powder nanoparticles, thin films, nanoceramics, and glasses to ensure that the effect of nanoscience in different nanoscintillator domains can be appreciated. The limitations of nanoscintillators are also highlighted in this review article. The advantages of nanostructured scintillators, including their property-driven applications, are also explained. This review article presents the considerable application potential of nanostructured scintillators with respect to important aspects as well as their physical and application significance in a concise manner.

    Bowen LI, Kenneth Kin-Yip WONG
    Masaki HADA