Plasmonic heater devices reduce switching energies and give dual electrical-optical functionality

The ever-increasing demands for data processing and storage will require seamless monolithic co-integration of electronics and photonics. The extreme size disparity however between CMOS electronics and dielectric photonics inhibits the realization of efficient and compact electrically driven photonic switches, logic and routing elements. The Fun-COMP team have however recently reached an important milestone in harmonizing the two domains, by demonstrating an electrically reconfigurable, ultra-compact and nonvolatile memory that is optically accessible. The platform relies on localized heat, generated within a plasmonic structure; this uniquely allows for both optical and electrical readout signals to be interlocked with the material state of the PCM while still ensuring that the writing operation is electrically decoupled. Through miniaturization and effective thermal engineering, the Fun-COMP team also achieved unprecedented energy efficiency, opening up a path towards low-energy optoelectronic hardware for neuromorphic and in-memory computing. The work was recently reported in the journal Advanced Science, see