Research ArticleChemistry

Asymmetric photon transport in organic semiconductor nanowires through electrically controlled exciton diffusion

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Science Advances  16 Mar 2018:
Vol. 4, no. 3, eaap9861
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aap9861


The ability to steer the flow of light toward desired propagation directions is critically important for the realization of key functionalities in optical communication and information processing. Although various schemes have been proposed for this purpose, the lack of capability to incorporate an external electric field to effectively tune the light propagation has severely limited the on-chip integration of photonics and electronics. Because of the noninteractive nature of photons, it is only possible to electrically control the flow of light by modifying the refractive index of materials through the electro-optic effect. However, the weak optical effects need to be strongly amplified for practical applications in high-density photonic integrations. We show a new strategy that takes advantage of the strong exciton-photon coupling in active waveguides to effectively manipulate photon transport by controlling the interaction between excitons and the external electric field. Single-crystal organic semiconductor nanowires were used to generate highly stable Frenkel exciton polaritons with strong binding and diffusion abilities. By making use of directional exciton diffusion in an external electric field, we have realized an electrically driven asymmetric photon transport and thus directional light propagation in a single nanowire. With this new concept, we constructed a dual-output single wire–based device to build an electrically controlled single-pole double-throw optical switch with fast temporal response and high switching frequency. Our findings may lead to the innovation of concepts and device architectures for optical information processing.

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