During the last decade, plasmonic- and metamaterial-based applications have revolutionized the field of integrated photonics by allowing for deep subwavelength confinement and full control over the effective permittivity and permeability of the optical environment. However, despite the numerous remarkable proofs of principle that have been experimentally demonstrated, few key issues remain preventing a widespread of nanophotonic technologies. Among these fundamental limitations, we remind the large ohmic losses, incompatibility with semiconductor industry standards, and largely reduced dynamic tunability of the optical properties. In this article, in the larger context of the new emerging field of all-dielectric nanophotonics, we present our recent progresses towards the study of large optical nonlinearities in transparent conducting oxides (TCOs) also giving a general overview of the most relevant and recent experimental attainments using TCO-based technology. However, it is important to underline that the present article does not represent a review paper but rather an original work with a broad introduction. Our work lays in a sort of 'hybrid' zone in the middle between high index contrast systems, whose behaviour is well described by applying Mie scattering theory, and standard plasmonic elements where optical modes originate from the electromagnetic coupling with the electronic plasma at the metal-to-dielectric interface. Beside remaining in the context of plasmonic technologies and retaining all the fundamental peculiarities that promoted the success of plasmonics in the first place, our strategy has the additional advantage to allow for large and ultra-fast tunability of the effective complex refractive index by accessing the index-near-zero regime in bulk materials at telecom wavelength.
- alternative materials
- nonlinear optics
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
- Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics