Engineering Metals on Nanoscale for Nanophotonics and Plasmonics

Jialan Zhang, Ph.D.
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In recent years, the field of nanophotonics has attracted a lot of attention. This is mainly due to its unique properties (that may not exist in its bulk form) and wide applications in various fields such as integrated circuits, solar cells, quantum computing, and medical technologies.

In current nanophotonics and plasmonics research, metal is often an important component because it can support localized surface plasmon polaritons, and transport and focus light to much smaller scales than the classical diffraction limit. In this blog, I present two JoVE engineering articles as examples of engineering metal nanoparticles to fabricate elements for nanophotonics and plasmonics with the possibility of low-cost, large-scale production.

Dr. Maiken H. Mikkelsen in her JoVE Video Article
Dr. Maiken H. Mikkelsen in her JoVE Video Article

The first JoVE engineering Video Article on nanophotonics that came to mind was published by Prof. Maiken H. Mikkelsen’s group at Duke University in 2016.

In this article, they present a method for synthesizing silver nanocubes and fabricating plasmonic nanopatch antennas by coupling the silver nanocubes with an underlying gold film.

The major steps of their method include colloidal synthesis, layer-by-layer dip-coating process, and deposition of dye molecules.

This method enables control over the distance between silver nanocubes and gold films (within ~1nm resolution), and incorporation of active media into nanopatch antennas.

Optical measurements of these antennas show fluorescence enhancement of embedded dye molecules, ultrafast spontaneous emission, and high quantum yield.


experiment steps from engineering video article from authors at Duke University

Dr. Kyle J. Alvine’s lab published another interesting JoVE engineering Video Article on nanophotonics at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in 2017.

Dr. Kyle J. Alvine in his JoVE Video Article
Dr. Kyle J. Alvine in his JoVE Video Article

In this article, they present an efficient method to fabricate periodic arrays of plasmonic gold nanocups.

The colloidal lithography technique presented in this article, includes: spin coating, sputter coating, and uses self-assembly of commercially available polymeric nanospheres to pattern a template that can be further processed into a plasmonic substrate.

The plasmonic film is transferred from a rigid silicon substrate to a flexible, transparent film using commonly available adhesive tape.

The optical properties of the film are measured by electron microscopy and optical spectroscopy.

experimental steps from engineering Video Article in JoVE

Like other emerging research areas in engineering and physics, nanophotonics and plasmonics face many opportunities and challenges, and it would be interesting to further explore and understand this field.

If you are interested to read and watch other JoVE Video Articles in engineering and applied physics research, then check out this link below.

JoVE Engineering