Plasmonic nanophotonics: Manipulating light and sensing molecules

V. M. Shalaev and A. K. Sarychev

School of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Purdue University
West Lafayette, IN 47907-1285

Metal-dielectric nanostructured materials, which can support various plasmon modes, open new avenues for manipulating light with light itself and sensing molecules with unsurpassed sensitivity [1-7]. Fundamentals of optical properties of meso- and nano-structured metal-dielectric composites, both ordered and disordered, are reviewed in this presentation. Specifically, the following unique properties and applications of plasmonic nanomaterials are emphasized. i) We argue that metal nanostructures can be employed for fabricating low-loss plasmonic band-gap structures with large and scaleable photonic band gaps and as left-handed materials ii) We show that optically thick metal films with modulated refractive index can support both propagating and localized plasmon modes, allowing the extraordinary light transmittance, which can be controlled by the light itself via optical nonlinearities. iii) We also show a feasibility of photon circuiting in plasmonic materials, similarly to conventional electron circuits, which might result in novel applications in the emerging area of nanophotonics. iv) Finally, we demonstrate that the scale-invariant fractal symmetry of disordered nanocomposites results in localization of plasmons by random, nanometer-sized plasmonic resonators, where the local field exceeds the applied field by many orders of magnitude and optical nonlinearities are dramatically enhanced in a broad spectral range from the near-UV to the far-IR. The electromagnetic modes focused within the nm-sized "hot spots" act like nano-antennas and make possible a number of novel applications in photonics, laser physics, and spectroscopy.


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