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June 22, 2021

New reflective broadband limiter featured on journal cover

Written By: Jason Daley

journal cover image
Image Credit: X. Zou

The journal Laser & Photonics Reviews has selected a paper from the lab of Mikhail Kats, Jack St. Clair Kilby Associate Professor in electrical and computer engineering for the cover of its June 2020, issue.

The research, led by University of Wisconsin-Madison PhD student Chenghao Wan, is a collaboration between UW-Madison researchers and engineers at Purdue University.

In the paper, the researchers describe a new type of optical limiter. Limiters are used to protect delicate optical components, photodetectors, cameras and the human eye from high-intensity illumination. While limiters are transparent for low-intensity light, they gradually decrease the transmittal of the input light as it increases in intensity, keeping the output intensity roughly constant.

Many current nonlinear limiters work by absorbing high-intensity light, which can lead to issues like melting or damage to the limiter. In their new design, the team demonstrates a broadband reflective limiter made from vanadium dioxide and metallic nanostructures. Vanadium dioxide undergoes an insulator-to-metal transition which can be thermo-optically triggered, creating a large change in optical properties, and thus changing the transmission of the combined structure. The limiter works for light at mid-infrared wavelengths.