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Phys Rev Lett. 2016 Jun 10;116(23):233901. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.116.233901. Epub 2016 Jun 8.

Enhanced Nonlinear Refractive Index in ε-Near-Zero Materials.

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Institute of Photonics and Quantum Sciences, SUPA, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh EH14 4AS, United Kingdom.
School of Engineering, University of Glasgow, Glasgow G12 8LT, United Kingdom.
School of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Birck Nanotechnology Center, Purdue University, 1205 West State Street, West Lafayette, Indiana 47907-2057, USA.
SUPA, School of Physics and Astronomy, University of St. Andrews, St. Andrews KY16 9SS, United Kingdom.


New propagation regimes for light arise from the ability to tune the dielectric permittivity to extremely low values. Here, we demonstrate a universal approach based on the low linear permittivity values attained in the ε-near-zero (ENZ) regime for enhancing the nonlinear refractive index, which enables remarkable light-induced changes of the material properties. Experiments performed on Al-doped ZnO (AZO) thin films show a sixfold increase of the Kerr nonlinear refractive index (n_{2}) at the ENZ wavelength, located in the 1300 nm region. This in turn leads to ultrafast light-induced refractive index changes of the order of unity, thus representing a new paradigm for nonlinear optics.

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