Microresonators are ideal systems for probing nonlinear phenomena at low thresholds due to their small mode volumes and high quality (Q) factors. As such, they have found use both for fundamental studies of light-matter interactions as well as for applications in areas ranging from telecommunications to medicine. In particular, semiconductor-based resonators with large Kerr nonlinearities have great potential for high speed, low power all-optical processing. Here we present experiments to characterize the size of the Kerr induced resonance wavelength shifting in a hydrogenated amorphous silicon resonator and demonstrate its potential for ultrafast all-optical modulation and switching. Large wavelength shifts are observed for low pump powers due to the high nonlinearity of the amorphous silicon material and the strong mode confinement in the microcylindrical resonator. The threshold energy for switching is less than a picojoule, representing a significant step towards advantageous low power silicon-based photonic technologies.
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