Plasmonic nanogap enhanced phase-change devices with dual electrical-optical functionality

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Science Advances  29 Nov 2019:
Vol. 5, no. 11, eaaw2687
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aaw2687


Modern-day computers rely on electrical signaling for the processing and storage of data, which is bandwidth-limited and power hungry. This fact has long been realized in the communications field, where optical signaling is the norm. However, exploiting optical signaling in computing will require new on-chip devices that work seamlessly in both electrical and optical domains, without the need for repeated electrical-to-optical conversion. Phase-change devices can, in principle, provide such dual electrical-optical operation, but assimilating both functionalities into a single device has so far proved elusive owing to conflicting requirements of size-limited electrical switching and diffraction-limited optical response. Here, we combine plasmonics, photonics, and electronics to deliver an integrated phase-change memory cell that can be electrically or optically switched between binary or multilevel states. Crucially, this device can also be simultaneously read out both optically and electrically, offering a new strategy for merging computing and communications technologies.

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