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Theoretical and numerical investigation of plasmon nanofocusing in metallic tapered rods and grooves

Vogel, Michael Werner (2009) Theoretical and numerical investigation of plasmon nanofocusing in metallic tapered rods and grooves. PhD by Publication, Queensland University of Technology.

Abstract

Effective focusing of electromagnetic (EM) energy to nanoscale regions is one of the major challenges in nano-photonics and plasmonics. The strong localization of the optical energy into regions much smaller than allowed by the diffraction limit, also called nanofocusing, offers promising applications in nano-sensor technology, nanofabrication, near-field optics or spectroscopy. One of the most promising solutions to the problem of efficient nanofocusing is related to surface plasmon propagation in metallic structures. Metallic tapered rods, commonly used as probes in near field microscopy and spectroscopy, are of a particular interest. They can provide very strong EM field enhancement at the tip due to surface plasmons (SP’s) propagating towards the tip of the tapered metal rod. A large number of studies have been devoted to the manufacturing process of tapered rods or tapered fibers coated by a metal film. On the other hand, structures such as metallic V-grooves or metal wedges can also provide strong electric field enhancements but manufacturing of these structures is still a challenge. It has been shown, however, that the attainable electric field enhancement at the apex in the V-groove is higher than at the tip of a metal tapered rod when the dissipation level in the metal is strong. Metallic V-grooves also have very promising characteristics as plasmonic waveguides. This thesis will present a thorough theoretical and numerical investigation of nanofocusing during plasmon propagation along a metal tapered rod and into a metallic V-groove. Optimal structural parameters including optimal taper angle, taper length and shape of the taper are determined in order to achieve maximum field enhancement factors at the tip of the nanofocusing structure. An analytical investigation of plasmon nanofocusing by metal tapered rods is carried out by means of the geometric optics approximation (GOA), which is also called adiabatic nanofocusing. However, GOA is applicable only for analysing tapered structures with small taper angles and without considering a terminating tip structure in order to neglect reflections. Rigorous numerical methods are employed for analysing non-adiabatic nanofocusing, by tapered rod and V-grooves with larger taper angles and with a rounded tip. These structures cannot be studied by analytical methods due to the presence of reflected waves from the taper section, the tip and also from (artificial) computational boundaries. A new method is introduced to combine the advantages of GOA and rigorous numerical methods in order to reduce significantly the use of computational resources and yet achieve accurate results for the analysis of large tapered structures, within reasonable calculation time. Detailed comparison between GOA and rigorous numerical methods will be carried out in order to find the critical taper angle of the tapered structures at which GOA is still applicable. It will be demonstrated that optimal taper angles, at which maximum field enhancements occur, coincide with the critical angles, at which GOA is still applicable. It will be shown that the applicability of GOA can be substantially expanded to include structures which could be analysed previously by numerical methods only. The influence of the rounded tip, the taper angle and the role of dissipation onto the plasmon field distribution along the tapered rod and near the tip will be analysed analytically and numerically in detail. It will be demonstrated that electric field enhancement factors of up to ~ 2500 within nanoscale regions are predicted. These are sufficient, for instance, to detect single molecules using surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) with the tip of a tapered rod, an approach also known as tip enhanced Raman spectroscopy or TERS. The results obtained in this project will be important for applications for which strong local field enhancement factors are crucial for the performance of devices such as near field microscopes or spectroscopy. The optimal design of nanofocusing structures, at which the delivery of electromagnetic energy to the nanometer region is most efficient, will lead to new applications in near field sensors, near field measuring technology, or generation of nanometer sized energy sources. This includes: applications in tip enhanced Raman spectroscopy (TERS); manipulation of nanoparticles and molecules; efficient coupling of optical energy into and out of plasmonic circuits; second harmonic generation in non-linear optics; or delivery of energy to quantum dots, for instance, for quantum computations.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 29241
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD by Publication)
Supervisor: Gramotnev, Dmitri& Jaatinen, Esa
Keywords: near field optics, nano-optics, plasmonics, surface plasmons, localised surface plasmons, film plasmons, gap plasmons, nanofocusing, adiabatic nanofocusing, non-adiabatic nanofocusing, local field enhancement, metallic V-groove, metal tapered rod
Divisions: Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Science and Technology
Past > Schools > School of Physical & Chemical Sciences
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 10 Dec 2009 15:40
Last Modified: 29 Oct 2011 05:54

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