NONLINEAR OPTICS: Large optical nonlinearity of indium tin oxide in its epsilon-near-zero region

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Abstract

Nonlinear optical phenomena are crucial for a broad range of applications, such as microscopy, all-optical data processing, and quantum information. However, materials usually exhibit a weak optical nonlinearity even under intense coherent illumination. We report that indium tin oxide can acquire an ultrafast and large intensity-dependent refractive index in the region of the spectrum where the real part of its permittivity vanishes. We observe a change in the real part of the refractive index of 0.72 ± 0.025, corresponding to 170% of the linear refractive index. This change in refractive index is reversible with a recovery time of about 360 femtoseconds. Our results offer the possibility of designing material structures with large ultrafast nonlinearity for applications in nanophotonics.

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