Abstract

Semiconductors exhibit large optical nonlinearities near the band edge because of resonance enhancement. Optical bistability occurs when the optical nonlinearities are coupled with feedback. In bulk GaAs and GaAs–AlGaAs multiple-quantum-well superlattices, the nonlinearity arising from the presence of the free-exciton resonance has produced room-temperature optical bistability with a few milliwatts of power. The formation of biexcitons in CuCl, the saturation of the bound exciton on CdS, and band-filling effects in InSb, InAs, and HgCdTe lead to observation of bistability in these materials. A bistable etalon can be operated in an optical-gate mode to generate optical analogs of electronic gates such as and, or, and nor. It has been demonstrated that a GaAs optical NOR gate responds in ∼1 psec, using only ≲3 pJ of energy. However, because of the carrier lifetime of a few nanoseconds, the repetition rate of the NOR gate is now limited to a few hundred megahertz.

© 1985 Optical Society of America

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