Multistability of a coherent spin ensemble in a semiconductor microcavity
Coherent manipulation of spin ensembles is a key issue in the development of spintronics. In particular, multivalued spin switching may lead to new schemes of logic gating and memories. This phenomenon has been studied with atom vapours 30 years ago, but is still awaited in the solid state. Here, we demonstrate spin multistability with microcavity polaritons in a trap. Owing to the spinor nature of these light-matter quasiparticles and to the anisotropy of their interactions, we can optically control the spin state of a single confined level by tuning the excitation power, frequency and polarization. First, we realize high-efficiency power-dependent polarization switching. Then, at constant excitation power, we evidence polarization hysteresis and determine the conditions for realizing multivalued spin switching. Finally, we demonstrate an unexpected regime, where our system behaves as a high-contrast spin trigger. These results open new pathways to the development of advanced spintronics devices and to the realization of multivalued logic circuits.