All-optical free-space routing of upconverted light by metasurfaces via nonlinear interferometry
preprintposted on 2023-07-07, 16:01 authored by Agostino Di Francescantonio, Attilio Zilli, Davide Rocco, Laure Coudrat, Fabrizio Conti, Paolo Biagioni, Lamberto Duò, Aristide Lemaître, Costantino De Angelis, Giuseppe Leo, Marco Finazzi, Michele Celebrano
All-optical modulation yields the promise of high-speed information processing. In this frame, metasurfaces are rapidly gaining traction as ultrathin multifunctional platforms for light management. Among the featured functionalities, they enable light wavefront manipulation and, more recently, demonstrated the ability to perform light-by-light manipulation through nonlinear optical processes. Here, by employing a nonlinear periodic metasurface, we demonstrate all-optical routing of telecom photons upconverted to the visible range. This is achieved via the interference between two frequency-degenerate upconversion processes, namely third-harmonic and sum-frequency generation, stemming from the interaction of a pump pulse with its frequency-doubled replica. By tuning the relative phase and polarization between these two pump beams, and concurrently engineering the nonlinear emission of the individual elements of the metasurfaces (meta-atoms) along with its pitch, we route the upconverted signal among the diffraction orders of the metasurface with a modulation efficiency up to 90%. Thanks to the phase control and the ultrafast dynamics of the underlying nonlinear processes, free-space all-optical routing could be potentially performed at rates close to the employed optical frequencies divided by the quality factor of the optical resonances at play. Our approach adds a further twist to optical interferometry, which is a key-enabling technique in a wide range of applications, such as homodyne detection, radar interferometry, LiDAR technology, gravitational waves detection, and molecular photometry. In particular, the nonlinear character of light upconversion combined with phase sensitivity is extremely appealing for enhanced imaging and biosensing.