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Guiding of Electromagnetic Energy in Subwavelength Periodic Metal Structures


Maier, Stefan Alexander (2003) Guiding of Electromagnetic Energy in Subwavelength Periodic Metal Structures. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/TKPX-3H40.


The ultimate miniaturization of optical devices requires structures that guide electromagnetic energy with a lateral confinement below the diffraction limit of light. In this thesis, the possibility of employing plasmon-polariton excitations in plasmon waveguides consisting of closely spaced metal nanoclusters for this purpose is examined. The feasibility of energy transport with mode sizes below the diffraction limit of visible light over distances of several hundred nanometers is demonstrated.

As a macroscopic analogue to plasmon waveguides, the transport of electromagnetic energy in the microwave regime along closely spaced centimeter-scale metal rods is examined. Full-field electrodynamic simulations show that information transport occurs at a group velocity of 0.65c for fabricated structures consisting of copper rods excited at 8 GHz. A variety of passive routing structures and an all-optical modulator are demonstrated.

The possibility of guiding electromagnetic energy at visible frequencies with mode sizes below the diffraction limit using plasmon waveguides is analyzed using a point-dipole model and finite-difference time-domain simulations. It is shown that energy transport occurs via near-field coupling between metal nanoparticles, which leads to coherent propagation of energy. For spherical gold particles in air, group velocities up to 0.06c are demonstrated, and a change in particle shape to spheroidal particles shows up to a threefold increase in group velocity. Pulses with transverse polarization are shown to propagate with negative phase velocities antiparallel to the energy flow.

Plasmon waveguides consisting of gold and silver nanoparticles were fabricated using electron beam lithography. The key parameters that govern the energy transport are determined for various interparticle spacings and particle chain lengths using far-field measurements of the collective plasmon modes. Spherical gold nanoparticles with a diameter of 50 nm and an interparticle spacing of 75 nm show an energy attenuation of 6 dB/30 nm. This loss can be reduced by one order of magnitude by a geometry change to spheroidal particles. Using the tip of a near-field optical microscope as a local excitation source and fluorescent nanospheres as detectors, experimental evidence for energy transport over a distance of 0.5 micron is presented for plasmon waveguides consisting of silver rods with a 3:1 aspect ratio.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:metal nanoparticles; nano-optics; nano-waveguides; near-field optics; plasmon waveguides; plasmon-polariton
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Engineering and Applied Science
Major Option:Applied Physics
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Atwater, Harry Albert
Thesis Committee:
  • Atwater, Harry Albert (chair)
  • Kornfield, Julia A.
  • Vahala, Kerry J.
  • Painter, Oskar J.
  • Quake, Stephen R.
Defense Date:24 January 2003
Non-Caltech Author Email:Stefan.Maier (AT)
Record Number:CaltechETD:etd-02062003-155401
Persistent URL:
Maier, Stefan Alexander0000-0001-9704-7902
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:515
Deposited By: Imported from ETD-db
Deposited On:10 Feb 2003
Last Modified:08 Nov 2023 00:12

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