Tunable Plasmonic Metamaterial
Plasmonic metamaterials are artificial materials typically composed of noble metals in which the features of photonics and electronics are linked by coupling photons to conduction electrons of metal (known as surface plasmon). These rationally designed structures have spurred interest noticeably since they demonstrate some fascinating properties which are unattainable with naturally occurring materials. Complete absorption of light is one of the recent exotic properties of plasmonic metamaterials which has broadened its application area considerably. However, up to date all of the applied methods (perforated metallic films, grating structured systems, and conventional metamaterials) are costly and suffer from a lack of flexibility. Furthermore, their absorbance is mainly limited to a narrow spectral range or their fabrication is costly. So, such drawbacks make their vast application almost impossible. Here, in this dissertation, we design, fabricate and characterize a novel perfect absorbers based on nanocomposites whose total thickness is only a few tens of nanometers and its absorption band is broad, tunable and insensitive to the angle of incidence. The nanocomposites consist of metal nanoparticles embedded in a dielectric matrix with a high filling factor close to the percolation threshold. The filling factor can be tailored by vapor phase co-deposition of the metallic and dielectric components. Accordingly, three types of metals (gold, silver and copper) as the inclusions of the nanocomposite and four different mirrors (gold, silver, copper and aluminum) are used as the base layer. The high absorption of these metamaterials are originated from the huge absorption capability of the metallic nanoparticles (smaller than 5 nanometer in diameter) via localized plasmon resonance, confinement of the light within the tiny gap between nanoparticles as well as interference of the light by reflection through the layers. To functionalize the system, polymer-photoswitchable molecules were added as the top or spacer layer which enable us to demonstrate a photodriven perfect absorber in which the absorption band can be broadened or narrowed by ultraviolet or visible light illumination, respectively. In this approach, the absorption tuning is originated from the bond-breakage of the molecules which can be activated by irradiation. Due to the strong interaction of the molecules and metal mirror, plasmon-exciton coupling happens which not only enhances the absorption but also shifts or splits the absorption band. Also as the specific highlight of the idea, we show that a thin plasmonic nanocomposite film on a silicon wafer covered by a silicon dioxide film would diminish the reflection in a broad range of frequency and make a new class of plasmonic anti-reflection coating. Our novel concept (called hybrid ARC) combines two possible arrangements for the layers in an anti-reflection coating into a single structure; albeit at two different wavelengths. Its performance originates from the strong dispersive nature of the nanocomposite. Furthermore, we show that the current metamaterial on a metal reflector can be used for visualization of different colorations as a plasmonic rainbow despite its sub-wavelength thickness.