The understanding of free-carrier dynamics in silicon photonic nano-waveguides and micro-cavities is fundamental to several nonlinear optical phenomena. Through time-resolved pump and probe experiments, a complex and nonlinear carrier recombination dynamics is revealed. Our results show that the carrier lifetime varies as the recombination evolves, with faster decay rates at the initial stages (with lifetime of ∼800 ps∼800 ps) and much slower lifetimes at later stages (up to ∼300 ns∼300 ns). The large surface-to-volume ratio in nano-waveguides enables clear observation of the effect of carrier trapping, manifesting as a decay curve that is highly dependent on the initial carrier density. Further, we demonstrate faster recombination rates by operating at high carrier density. Our results, along with a theoretical framework based on trap-assisted recombination statistics applied to nano-waveguides, can impact the dynamics of several nonlinear nanophotonic devices in which free carriers play a critical role, and open further opportunities to enhance the performance of all-optical silicon-based devices.
Wavelength-scale periodic microstructuring dramatically alters the optical properties of materials. In this letter, we explore stimulated Brillouin scattering in PCFs with subwavelength-scale solid silica glass cores. The large refractive-index difference between air and glass allows much tighter confinement of light than is possible in all-solid single-mode glass optical fibres made using conventional techniques. When the silica-air PCF has a core diameter of around 70% of the vacuum wavelength of the launched laser light, we find that the spontaneous Brillouin signal develops a highly unusual multi-peaked spectrum with Stokes frequency shifts in the 10-GHz range. We attribute these peaks to several families of guided acoustic modes each with different proportions of longitudinal and shear strain, strongly localized to the core. At the same time, the threshold power for stimulated Brillouin scattering increases fivefold. The results show that Brillouin scattering is strongly affected by nanoscale microstructuring, opening new opportunities for controlling light—sound interactions in optical fibres.
The interaction between light and acoustic phonons is strongly modified in sub-wavelength confinement, and has led to the demonstration and control of Brillouin scattering in photonic structures such as nano-scale optical waveguides and cavities. Besides the small optical mode volume, two physical mechanisms come into play simultaneously: a volume effect caused by the strain-induced refractive index perturbation (known as photo-elasticity), and a surface effect caused by the shift of the optical boundaries due to mechanical vibrations. As a result, proper material and structure engineering allows one to control each contribution individually. Here, we experimentally demonstrate the perfect cancellation of Brillouin scattering arising from Rayleigh acoustic waves by engineering a silica nanowire with exactly opposing photo-elastic and moving-boundary effects. This demonstration provides clear experimental evidence that the interplay between the two mechanisms is a promising tool to precisely control the photon–phonon interaction, enhancing or suppressing it.
The Brazilian Physical Society (Sociedade Brasileira de Física, SBF) highlighted our article on photon-phonon interaction in silica nanowires (see post on July 7th, 2016, in Portuguese only).