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Title:An experimental study of light-material interaction at subwavelength scale
Author(s):Ma, Hyungjin
Director of Research:Fang, Nicholas X.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Kwiat, Paul G.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Fang, Nicholas X.; Eden, James G.; Clegg, Robert M.
Department / Program:Physics
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
surface plasmon
optical modulator
extraordinary transmission
near field scanning optical microscope
near-field scanning optical microscope (NSOM)
Abstract:The recent emergence of nanotechnology offers a new perspective in the field of optics. The study of light-material interaction has evolved into a nanoscale regime with its dimension smaller than the wavelength of light. While there are pressing needs of optical applications with higher resolution and efficiency, one important hurdle is the so-called diffraction limit that originates from light’s inherent wave nature. Based on the localized electromagnetic field generation due to the resonant oscillation of electron plasma in metal, plasmonics offers new opportunities for manipulating light at the subwavelength scale. This dissertation investigates the effects of electromagnetic field confinement on light-material interaction inside nanoscale metal-dielectric composite structures. One of the simplest structures is a subwavelength hole perforated on a thin metal film. The scalar diffraction theory by Kirchhoff fails to explain the nature of light at nanoscale. Later, it was pointed out by Bethe that light in a small hole can be represented by the electric and magnetic dipole fields which satisfy the boundary conditions at the screen. Using near-field scanning optical microscope (NSOM), I have experimentally studied light transmission through a subwavelength hole, and found an unusually large amount of phase shift in the transmitted light contradicting Bethe’s theory. Such effect is explained by the strong contribution of in-plane electric dipole field due to the excitation of surface plasmon wave. An important challenge to the study of a localized light field is the requirement of non-traditional optical tools that can probe the near-field of light with subwavelength resolution. The cathodoluminescence (CL) microscope, which is a variation of the electron microscope (that has an imaging resolution better than 10nm), is employed to generate a point-like dipole light source using an electron beam in a controlled way. By using CL to excite local plasmonic modes in a nanoscale metal-air-semiconductor bubbles, I demonstrate an ultrasmall mode volume and cavity-enhanced luminescence from a plasmonic structure. Numerical calculation based on a point dipole model indicates that such an effect is a result of increased local optical density of states (LDOS) due to a strong localized field. This device enables a way to generate localized light from a continuous active medium with high quantum efficiency, which is potentially useful for on-chip subwavelength optoelectric applications. Active optical devices sometimes involve an interaction between a plane electromagnetic wave and an active optical medium, which interaction can be modulated by an external stimulus, such as optical or electric pumping. The optical non-linearity of active media available in nature is, in general, extremely weak. Therefore, either bulky or highly resonant structures are required to build an effective, active optical device. Artificially engineered material, sometimes referred as a “metamaterials,” can have optical properties that are not naturally available. I demonstrate an efficient optical modulator based on a plasmonic metamaterial, which takes advantage of enhanced light-matter interaction within a small-footprint device. Simple modeling and numerical simulation is performed to identify a strong localized field that is due to magnetic resonance. A far-field optical characterization, based on the pump-probe technique, is performed, to demonstrate all-optical modulation with an ultrafast response time of 2ps and a modulation depth of 40%.
Issue Date:2012-02-06
Rights Information:Copyright 2011 Hyungjin Ma
Date Available in IDEALS:2012-02-06
Date Deposited:2011-12

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