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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/29852

Title: Ultrafast Active Plasmonics on Gold Films
Authors: Rotenberg, Nir
Advisor: van Driel, Henry M.
Department: Physics
Keywords: Surface Plasmon Polariton
Issue Date: 31-Aug-2011
Abstract: Active plasmonics combines the manipulation of light on both sub-wavelength length and ultrashort time scales, a unique meld that holds promise for developments in many scientific fields. This thesis reports on a novel approach to ultrafast, all-optical control of grating-assisted excitation of surface plasmon polaritons based on opto-thermally modifying the optical properties of gold. In contrast to prior works, this approach results in plasmonic modulation on picosecond and even sub-picosecond time scales, and is compatible with modern, multi-GHz information processing technology. Finally, an analytic model is developed that allows for the rapid and accurate calculation of the coupling efficiency of beams with arbitrary spatial profile. First, the ultrafast dynamics of existing plasmonic coupling resonances, on gold films with grating overlayers, are studied with spectrally resolved pump-probe measurements. Irradiation of the metal by 700 fs, 775 nm laser pulses results in modulations of the plasmonic coupling efficiency of ~20% near the center, or ~60% off-center, of resonances centered between 540 nm and 700 nm. The modulations decay with a time constant of 770 +/- 70 fs. The experimental results are consistent with simulations based on the thermal-dynamics of the electron-lattice gold system, coupled with numerical modeling of light-grating interactions. Next, two 150 fs, 810 nm laser beams are interfered on the surface of a planar gold film, leading to an absorption/refraction grating in the metal. Optical pump-probe spectroscopy measurements of the first (-1) diffracted order in transmission identify plasmonic coupling resonances between 520 nm and 570 nm. The observed coupling efficiency is ~10^{-5}, and the launch window decays with a time constant of 620 +/- 100 fs. Lastly, a Green function-based analytic model is developed to describe grating assisted plasmonic coupling, culminating in a first-order differential equation with coefficients that have both clear physical significance as well as analytic forms. Comparison of this technique with standard numerical modeling methods shows that plasmonic coupling efficiencies in excess of 0.8 are predicted within an error of 15%. This model is used to study plasmonic excitation by finite-size beams, showing the spatial evolution of the intensity of both the surface plasmon polariton and the reflected beam.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/29852
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