Saturable absorption is a nonperturbative nonlinear optical phenomenon that plays a pivotal role in the generation of ultrafast light pulses. Here we show that this effect emerges in graphene at unprecedentedly low light intensities, thus opening avenues to new nonlinear physics and applications in optical technology. Specifically, we theoretically investigate saturable absorption in extended graphene by developing a semianalytical nonperturbative single-particle approach, describing electron dynamics in the atomically-thin material using the two-dimensional Dirac equation for massless Dirac fermions, which is recast in the form of generalized Bloch equations. By solving the electron dynamics nonperturbatively, we account for both interband and intraband contributions to the intensity-dependent saturated conductivity and conclude that the former dominates regardless of the intrinsic doping state of the material. We obtain results in qualitative agreement with atomistic quantum-mechanical simulations of graphene nanoribbons including electron-electron interactions, finite-size, and higher-band effects. Remarkably, such effects are found to affect mainly the linear absorption, while the predicted saturation intensities are in good quantitative agreement in the limit of extended graphene. Additionally, we find that the modulation depth of saturable absorption in graphene can be electrically manipulated through an externally applied gate voltage. Our results are relevant for the development of graphene-based optoelectronic devices, as well as for applications in mode-locking and random lasers.

Theory of graphene saturable absorption

Marini, Andrea;
2017

Abstract

Saturable absorption is a nonperturbative nonlinear optical phenomenon that plays a pivotal role in the generation of ultrafast light pulses. Here we show that this effect emerges in graphene at unprecedentedly low light intensities, thus opening avenues to new nonlinear physics and applications in optical technology. Specifically, we theoretically investigate saturable absorption in extended graphene by developing a semianalytical nonperturbative single-particle approach, describing electron dynamics in the atomically-thin material using the two-dimensional Dirac equation for massless Dirac fermions, which is recast in the form of generalized Bloch equations. By solving the electron dynamics nonperturbatively, we account for both interband and intraband contributions to the intensity-dependent saturated conductivity and conclude that the former dominates regardless of the intrinsic doping state of the material. We obtain results in qualitative agreement with atomistic quantum-mechanical simulations of graphene nanoribbons including electron-electron interactions, finite-size, and higher-band effects. Remarkably, such effects are found to affect mainly the linear absorption, while the predicted saturation intensities are in good quantitative agreement in the limit of extended graphene. Additionally, we find that the modulation depth of saturable absorption in graphene can be electrically manipulated through an externally applied gate voltage. Our results are relevant for the development of graphene-based optoelectronic devices, as well as for applications in mode-locking and random lasers.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11697/123343
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