Ultrafast Silicon Photonics with Visible to Mid-Infrared Pumping of Silicon Nanocrystals

Benjamin T. Diroll, Katelyn S. Schramke, Peijun Guo, Uwe R. Kortshagen, Richard D. Schaller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Dynamic optical control of infrared (IR) transparency and refractive index is achieved using boron-doped silicon nanocrystals excited with mid-IR optical pulses. Unlike previous silicon-based optical switches, large changes in transmittance are achieved without a fabricated structure by exploiting strong light coupling of the localized surface plasmon resonance (LSPR) produced from free holes of p-Type silicon nanocrystals. The choice of optical excitation wavelength allows for selectivity between hole heating and carrier generation through intraband or interband photoexcitation, respectively. Mid-IR optical pumping heats the free holes of p-Si nanocrystals to effective temperatures greater than 3500 K. Increases of the hole effective mass at high effective hole temperatures lead to a subpicosecond change of the dielectric function, resulting in a redshift of the LSPR, modulating mid-IR transmission by as much as 27%, and increasing the index of refraction by more than 0.1 in the mid-IR. Low hole heat capacity dictates subpicosecond hole cooling, substantially faster than carrier recombination, and negligible heating of the Si lattice, permitting mid-IR optical switching at terahertz repetition frequencies. Further, the energetic distribution of holes at high effective temperatures partially reverses the Burstein-Moss effect, permitting the modulation of transmittance at telecommunications wavelengths. The results presented here show that doped silicon, particularly in micro-or nanostructures, is a promising dynamic metamaterial for ultrafast IR photonics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6409-6414
Number of pages6
JournalNano letters
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 11 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was performed, in part, at the Center for Nanoscale Materials, a U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science User Facility, and supported by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, under contract no. DE-AC02-06CH11357. K.S.S. and U.R.K. were supported by the Army Office of Research under MURI Grant W911NF-12-1-0407. Parts of this work were carried out in the Minnesota Nano Center which receives partial support from NSF through the NNIN program. Aspects of this work were carried out in the Characterization Facility, University of Minnesota, which receives partial support from NSF through the MRSEC program.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 American Chemical Society.


  • doping
  • infrared
  • optical switching
  • plasmonics
  • Silicon photonics

How much support was provided by MRSEC?

  • Shared

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.


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