Abstract

Bulk II–VI semi-insulating ternary alloy Cd0.9Zn0.1Te is characterized as a basic material for all-optical switching functions on free-space beams at λ=1.5 µm. The adopted switching mechanism jointly exploits photoconduction and the linear electro-optic effect. Cd0.9Zn0.1Te proves to be six orders of magnitude faster than binary CdTe:In working in the same configuration. Control-beam fluence of less than 0.02 nJ/µm2 is sufficient for complete switching, and an extinction ratio of 23 dB is obtained, limited by spurious crystal birefringence. The role of material parameters in determining switching performances is discussed. A first estimate of the applicability of the switching principle in itself to communication signals is also given.

© 2001 Optical Society of America

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