We present ultrafast optical switching experiments on three-dimensional photonic band gap crystals. Switching the Si inverse opal is achieved by optically exciting free carriers by a two-photon process. We probe reflectivity in the frequency range of second order Bragg diffraction where the photonic band gap is predicted. We find good experimental switching conditions for free-carrier plasma frequencies between 0.3 and 0.7 times the optical frequency omega: we thus observe a large frequency shift of up to Deltaomega/omega=1.5% of all spectral features including the peak that corresponds to the photonic band gap. We deduce a corresponding large refractive index change of DeltanSi/nSi=2.0%, where nSi is the refractive index of the silicon backbone of the crystal. The induced absorption length is longer than the sample thickness. We observe a fast decay time of 21 ps, which implies that switching could potentially be repeated at GHz rates. Such a high switching rate is relevant to future switching and modulation applications.

J. Appl. Phys.
Photonic Materials

Euser, T. G., Wei, H., Kalkman, J., Jun, Y., Polman, A., Norris, D. J., & Vos, W. L. (2007). Ultrafast optical switching of three-dimensional Si inverse opal photonic band gap crystals. J. Appl. Phys., 102(Article number: 53111), 1–6. doi:10.1063/1.2777134