all-oPtIcaL ULtrafast metA-modulatoRS 

PILLARS aims at resolving the long-standing challenge of developing an all-around ultrafast optical modulator that serves as a universal tool for optical signal processing. This goal is achieved by introducing a novel paradigm for optical modulation at the nanoscale via reconfigurable metasurfaces supporting quasi-bound states in the continuum (q-BIC). Thanks to the combination of peculiarly high field localization of q-BIC modes and a significant ultrafast nonlinear optical response of the metasurfaces’ constituent material (i.e., silicon) we will dynamically tune the operating wavelength of our devices and effectively achieve ultrafast modulation rates up to 100% modulation depth. The same building blocks can be also adjusted to work as light-activated devices, where signal modulation is achieved by triggering the onset of the q-BIC mode by using two counterpropagating beams. One of the main advantages of the PILLARS meta-modulators is their scalability across a very broad frequency range: by exploiting a resonant mode that is not dependent on the meta-atom dimensions and that is in the radiation continuum we can freely move the operating wavelength across the whole transparency region of silicon. In other words, PILLARS envisions a single building block device that can address applications that span from the near-infrared to the THz regime without changing the working principle behind the device and preserving high compatibility with CMOS technology. Thanks to their unique geometrical configuration,  PILLARS meta-modulators will provide both amplitude and polarization modulation at the same modulation rate and depth. The implicit benefit of the proposed solutions will be also the development of design protocols that will dramatically change the approach to metasurface modeling for both linear and nonlinear interactions regardless of the operating wavelength regime or material of choice. PILLARS meta-modulators will possess an extremely small footprint that will make them suitable for a plethora of applications that span from network interconnections to short data links, environmental and healthcare monitoring, biological sensing, military applications, astronomy, quantum computing, virtual or augmented reality, and photonic neural networks, to name a few.


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