Large scale indium tin oxide (ITO) one dimensional gratings for ultrafast signal modulation in the visible spectral region†
Indium tin oxide (ITO) is a heavily doped semiconductor with a plasmonic response in the near infrared region. When exposed to light, the distribution of conduction band electron induces a change in the real and imaginary parts of the dielectric permittivity. The coupling of the electromagnetic waves with the electrons in the conduction band of metallic nanostructures with ultrashort light pulses results in a nonlinear plasmonic response. Such optical modulation occurring on ultrafast time scales, e.g. picosecond response times, can be exploited and used to create integrated optical components with terahertz modulation speed. Here, we present a photophysical study on a one dimensional ITO grating, realized using a femtosecond micromachining process, a very industrially accessible technology. The geometries, dimensions and pitch of the various gratings analyzed are obtained by means of direct ablation in a controlled atmosphere of a homogeneous thin layer of ITO deposited on a glass substrate. The pitch has been selected in order to obtain a higher order of the photonic band gap in the visible spectral region. Femtosecond micromachining technology guarantees precision, repeatability and extreme manufacturing flexibility. By means of ultrafast pump–probe spectroscopy, we characterize both the plasmon and inter-band temporal dynamics. We observe a large optical nonlinearity of the ITO grating in the visible range, where the photonic band gap occurs, when pumped at the surface plasmon resonance in the near infrared (1500 nm) region. All together, we show the possibility of all-optical signal modulation with heavily doped semiconductors in their transparency window with a picosecond response time through the formation of ITO grating structures.