Opto-mechanical Devices for Measuring Nanoplasmonic Metamaterials
Location: Bldg. 216, Rm. F118
Light is a ubiquitous probe in measurement science, but is challenging to harness for nanoscale applications because of the fundamental limits in confinement and resolution set by the wavelength. These limits can be overcome by transforming light into surface plasmon polaritons (SPPs), which are infrared or visible-frequency electromagnetic waves trapped at or guided along metal-dielectric interfaces. SPPs provide a significant reduction in effective wavelength and a corresponding dramatic increase in spatial confinement and local field intensity. We are engaged in the design, focused-ion-beam fabrication, and testing of “nanoplasmonic” photonic devices in which SPPs super-confined to nanoscale volumes enable novel measurements. In particular, device performance will be boosted through the use of active gain media, under the form of the first realization of a surface-plasmon laser. In parallel, we are investigating visible-frequency nanoplasmonic metamaterials with novel optical properties such as a negative index of refraction and a negative radiation- pressure response. These materials are promising for their ability to enable microscopy and lithography beyond the diffraction limit, as well as to enable the first steady-state micro-mechanical measurement of a fundamental yet still controversial property of light itself: the momentum of a photon in a dielectric medium.