Because of their exceptional local-field enhancement and ultrasmall mode volume, plasmonic components can integrate photonics and electronics at nanoscale, and active control of plasmons is the key. However, all-optical modulation of plasmonic response with nanometer mode volume and unity modulation depth is still lacking. Here we show that scattering from a plasmonic nanoparticle, whose volume is smaller than 0.001 μm3, can be optically switched off with less than 100 1/4W power. Over 80% modulation depth is observed, and shows no degradation after repetitive switching. The spectral bandwidth approaches 100 nm. The underlying mechanism is suggested to be photothermal effects, and the effective single-particle nonlinearity reaches nearly 10-9 m2 /W, which is to our knowledge the largest record of metallic materials to date. As a novel application, the non-bleaching and unlimitedly switchable scattering is used to enhance optical resolution to λ /5 (λ /9 after deconvolution), with 100-fold less intensity requirement compared to similar superresolution techniques. Our work not only opens up a new field of ultrasmall all-optical control based on scattering from a single nanoparticle, but also facilitates superresolution imaging for long-term observation.
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