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Active Oxide Nanophotonics


Dicken, Matthew James (2009) Active Oxide Nanophotonics. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/WPBT-C144.


Materials that can be manipulated electrically or mechanically to induce a change in their intrinsic properties are highly relevant when suitably integrated with current technologies. These "active" materials, such as oxide-based ferroelectrics or materials with easily accessible changes of phase, find extensive use as mechanical resonators, solid-state memories, and optical modulators. Barium titanate, a tetragonal ferroelectric at room temperature, is a prime example of a material both mechanically and optically active. This thesis deals primarily with the deposition of active, oxide-based materials and their integration into device structures where either the mechanical or optical properties are exploited.

The technologically interesting paradigms within which these active oxide materials have been investigated are microelectromechanical systems, plasmonics, and metamaterials. Microelectromechanical systems are devices that have been micromachined and rely on an applied voltage to induce a mechanical response. Mechanically active materials, such as piezoelectrics or ferroelectrics, can increase the response of these devices. Plasmonics deals with electromagnetic waves resonantly coupled into free electron oscillations at a metal-dielectric interface or metal nanoparticle. Coupling to these resonant modes allows surface plasmon polaritons to propagate along the metal with a nonlinear dispersion. Metamaterials are ordered, subwavelength, metal inclusions in a dielectric, which respond collectively to electromagnetic radiation. This response can yield a material permittivity or permeability not found in nature. The optical properties of metamaterials lead to effects such as negative index response and super lensing, and can be used to design optical cloaking structures. Here, devices utilizing these effects are investigated with an eye toward tuning or switching their resonant response using optically active oxide thin films.

This manuscript follows the evolution of active oxide thin films from deposition, through design of plasmonic devices and active metamaterials, finite difference modeling of these structures, and finally experimental validation. First, deposition and material integration techniques for oxide-based thin films will be discussed. The role of molecular beam epitaxy, pulsed laser deposition, and ion beam assisted deposition as material growth techniques are investigated. Development of a multitude of oxide materials using these techniques including barium titanate, strontium ruthenate, vanadium oxide, and magnesium oxide will be covered. The following two sections deal with the mechanical and optical properties of barium titanate thin films as they are studied and utilized to design and fabricate active devices. Films were characterized mechanically, using nanoindentation and piezoresponse force microscopy, and optically with variable angle spectroscopic ellipsometry. The subsequent section deals with the design, fabrication, and experimental validation of an active optical device based on surface plasmon polariton wavevector modulation via electrooptic modulation of a barium titanate thin film. Interferometers based on pairs of parallel slits fabricated in silver films on barium titanate are used to investigate optical modulation due to both domain switching and the electrooptic effect. Finally, active metamaterials are discussed through the investigation of a new material, vanadium oxide, as it is deposited and characterized, and the results used to design and fabricate active, split-ring resonator metamaterial structures.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:thin films; electrooptics; plasmonics; ferroelectrics; metamaterials
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:
  • Bhattacharya, Kaushik (chair)
  • Scherer, Axel
  • Atwater, Harry Albert
  • Vahala, Kerry J.
Defense Date:25 March 2009
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Center for Science and Engineering of MaterialsUNSPECIFIED
Army Research LabUNSPECIFIED
Record Number:CaltechETD:etd-05032009-154839
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:5263
Deposited By: Matthew James Dicken
Deposited On:21 May 2010 15:36
Last Modified:08 Nov 2023 00:12

Thesis Files

PDF (MJD_Thesis.pdf) - Final Version
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