In the study, strong refractive nonlinearities with a dependence on polarization were identified in the samples by a picosecond self-diffraction method and a femtosecond time-resolved optical Kerr gate technique. Control of the optical phase results as a consequence of the separated excitation of the self-focusing and self-defocusing phenomena exhibited by Ag and Au nanocomposites, respectively.

The experimental set-up allows compensating positive- or negative-induced birefringence. An ultrafast delay in the components of polarization of laser signals can be achieved without deflecting the beam, just by a change of refractive index.

The combination of these distinct nanosystems makes it possible to visualize new potential applications in optical communications, since they exhibit a sharp, selective and quasi-instantaneous optical temporal response.

Additional information can be found in the journal Nanotechnology.