Do Optomechanical Metasurfaces Run Out of Time?
Journal article, 2018
Artificially structured metasurfaces make use of specific configurations of subwavelength resonators to efficiently manipulate electromagnetic waves. Additionally, optomechanical metasurfaces have the desired property that their actual configuration may be tuned by adjusting the power of a pump beam, as resonators move to balance pump-induced electromagnetic forces with forces due to elastic filaments or substrates. Although the reconfiguration time of optomechanical metasurfaces crucially determines their performance, the transient dynamics of unit cells from one equilibrium state to another is not understood. Here, we make use of tools from nonlinear dynamics to analyze the transient dynamics of generic optomechanical metasurfaces based on a damped-resonator model with one configuration parameter. We show that the reconfiguration time of optomechanical metasurfaces is not only limited by the elastic properties of the unit cell but also by the nonlinear dependence of equilibrium states on the pump power. For example, when switching is enabled by hysteresis phenomena, the reconfiguration time is seen to increase by over an order of magnitude. To illustrate these results, we analyze the nonlinear dynamics of a bilayer cross-wire metasurface whose optical activity is tuned by an electromagnetic torque. Moreover, we provide a lower bound for the configuration time of generic optomechanical metasurfaces. This lower bound shows that optomechanical metasurfaces cannot be faster than state-of-the-art switches at reasonable powers, even at optical frequencies.