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Ultrafast synthesis and switching of light polarization in nonlinear anisotropic metamaterials

Research output: Contribution to journalLetter

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)628-633
JournalNature Photonics
Issue number10
Early online date27 Sep 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27 Sep 2017


King's Authors


Optical communications, laser science, microscopy and
metrology demand control of light polarization, which is also
used as a probe of chemical and biological systems. Typically,
certain polarization states of light are achieved using macroscopic
anisotropic crystals. Metamaterials and metasurfaces
have recently been developed to act as efficient passive
polarization components of subwavelength dimensions1–4.
However, active polarization control has so far been mainly
limited to microwave and terahertz wavelengths5–7. Here we
demonstrate all-optical switching of visible light polarization,
achieving up to 60° rotation of the polarization ellipse
at picosecond timescales. This is accomplished both under
control illumination and in a self-phase modulation regime,
where the intensity of light affects its own polarization state,
by exploiting the strong anisotropy and nonlinear response of
a hyperbolic metamaterial3,8–10. The effects are general for any
resonant, anisotropic, nonlinear nanoantennas and metasurfaces
and are suited to numerous photonic applications and
material characterization techniques where ultrafast polarization
shaping is required.

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