Active control of slow light on a chip with photonic crystal waveguides
It is known that light can be slowed down in dispersive materials near resonances1. Dramatic reduction of the light group velocity—and even bringing light pulses to a complete halt—has been demonstrated recently in various atomic2, 3, 4, 5 and solid state systems6, 7, 8, where the material absorption is cancelled via quantum optical coherent effects3, 4, 5, 7. Exploitation of slow light phenomena has potential for applications ranging from all-optical storage to all-optical switching9, 10. Existing schemes, however, are restricted to the narrow frequency range of the material resonance, which limits the operation frequency, maximum data rate and storage capacity10. Moreover, the implementation of external lasers, low pressures and/or low temperatures prevents miniaturization and hinders practical applications. Here we experimentally demonstrate an over 300-fold reduction of the group velocity on a silicon chip via an ultra-compact photonic integrated circuit using low-loss silicon photonic crystal waveguides11, 12 that can support an optical mode with a submicrometre cross-section13, 14. In addition, we show fast (100 ns) and efficient (2 mW electric power) active control of the group velocity by localized heating of the photonic crystal waveguide with an integrated micro-heater.