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Reconfigurable nanophotonic cavities with nonvolatile response
The use of phase-change materials on waveguide photonics is presently being purported for a range of applications from on-chip photonic data storage to new computing paradigms. Photonic integrated circuits in combination with phase-change materials provide on-chip control handles, featuring nonvolatility and operation speeds down to the nano- and picosecond regime. Besides ultrafast control, efficient operation of nonvolatile elements is crucial and requires compact photonic designs. Here we embed phase-change materials in photonic crystal cavities to realize tunable nanophotonic devices which can be reconfigured on demand. The devices exploit strong light matter interactions between the resonant modes of the cavity and the evanescently coupled phase-change material cell. This results in an increased transmission contrast and a power reduction of 520% over conventional phase-change nanophotonic devices when reversibly switched with optical pulses. Such designs can thus open up new areas of reconfigurable nanophotonics without sacrificing the speeds or functionality for applications in optical memory cells, optical switches, and tunable wavelength filters.