Applied Physics

Sending Plasmons Round a Bend

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Science  14 Sep 2007:
Vol. 317, Issue 5844, pp. 1471
DOI: 10.1126/science.317.5844.1471b

The orders-of-magnitude size difference between optical fibers and nanometer-scale electronic circuitry presents a substantial compatibility gap between the fast long-distance optical signal communications offered by photonics and the convenience of small-scale integrated microelectronics. Surface plasmons are hybrid excitations of light and packets of electrons confined to the interfacial region of a metal and a dielectric, and they offer the potential to fill that gap. However, plasmons are dispersive and tend to leak away because of scattering and radiation losses, giving rise to the general problem of efficiently guiding the plasmons around the two-dimensional plane to desired sites. Steinberger et al. have fabricated surface plasmon waveguides by lithographically patterning tracks of silicon dioxide deposited on a gold film. They demonstrate the ability to guide plasmons around a 90° bend, showing that there is a tradeoff between bend radius and propagation length for the optimal transmission of the plasmons through the waveguide. The results should help shrink the incompatibility gap yet further. — ISO

Appl. Phys. Lett. 91, 81111 (2007).

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