All-optical switching based on a subwavelength metallic grating structure containing nonlinear optical materials has been proposed and numerically investigated. Metal-dielectric composite material is used in the switching for its larger third-order nonlinear susceptibility and ultrafast response properties. The calculated dependence of the signal light intensity on the pump light intensity shows a bistable behavior, which results in a significant switch effect. It rests on a surface plasmon's enhanced intensity-dependent change of the effective dielectric constant of Kerr nonlinear media, corresponding to a transition of the far-field transmission from a low- to high-transmission state. The study of this switching structure shows great advantages of smaller size, lower requirement of pump light intensity, and shorter switching time at approximately the picosecond level.
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