APPLIED PHYSICS: A Bigger Photonic Playground

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Science  05 Oct 2007:
Vol. 318, Issue 5847, pp. 21a
DOI: 10.1126/science.318.5847.21a

In metallic nanostructures, surface plasmons, the collective oscillations of free electrons, can induce such phenomena as enhanced optical transmission and collimation of light through a subwavelength aperture. Though the structures are patterned on length scales of 100 nm, surface plasmons can interact over much longer distances. Henzie et al. cleverly combined a series of standard lithographic techniques to make larger photonic structures. Using interference lithography, they patterned high-quality silicon masters from which hundreds of photomasks could be made for patterning over centimeter length scales. Patterns of holes were created in both Si and Au films, either as infinite arrays or as a set of islands or patches. The patterned Au arrays exhibited an order-of-magnitude enhancement of optical transmission, a feature comparable to the optical quality seen in nanohole films produced by ion milling. When patches were not too far apart, plasmon interactions between them also led to much higher sensitivity in refractive index sensing. — MSL

Nat. Nanotechnol. 2, 549 (2007).

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