Metal/Insulator/Metal nanocavities (MIMs) are highly versatile systems for nanometric light confinement and waveguiding, and their optical properties are mostly interpreted in terms of surface plasmon polaritons. Although classic electromagnetic theory accurately describes their behavior, it often lacks physical insight, leaving some fundamental aspects of light interaction with these structures unexplored. In this work, we elaborate a quantum mechanical description of the MIM cavity as a double barrier quantum well. We identify the square of the imaginary part κ of the refractive index ñ of the metal as the optical potential and find that MIM cavity resonances are suppressed if the ratio n/κ exceeds a certain limit, which shows that low n and high κ values are desired for strong and sharp cavity resonances. Interestingly, the spectral regions of cavity mode suppression correspond to the interband transitions of the metals, where the optical processes are intrinsically non-Hermitian. The quantum treatment allows to describe the tunnel effect for photons and reveals that the MIM cavity resonances can be excited by resonant tunneling via illumination through the metal, without the need of momentum matching techniques such as prisms or grating couplers. By combining this analysis with spectroscopic ellipsometry on experimental MIM structures and by developing a simple harmonic oscillator model of the MIM for the calculation of its effective permittivity, we show that the cavity eigenmodes coincide with low-loss zeros of the effective permittivity. Therefore, the MIM resonances correspond to epsilon-near-zero (ENZ) eigenmodes that can be excited via resonant tunneling. Our approach provides a toolbox for the engineering of ENZ resonances throughout the entire visible range, which we demonstrate experimentally and theoretically. In particular, we apply our quantum mechanical approach to asymmetric MIM superabsorbers and use it for configuring broadly tunable refractive index sensors. Our work elucidates the role of MIM cavities as photonic analogues to tunnel diodes and opens new perspectives for metamaterials with designed ENZ response.

A Semi-Classical View on Epsilon-Near-Zero Resonant Tunneling Modes in Metal/Insulator/Metal Nanocavities

Caligiuri V.
Investigation
;
2019

Abstract

Metal/Insulator/Metal nanocavities (MIMs) are highly versatile systems for nanometric light confinement and waveguiding, and their optical properties are mostly interpreted in terms of surface plasmon polaritons. Although classic electromagnetic theory accurately describes their behavior, it often lacks physical insight, leaving some fundamental aspects of light interaction with these structures unexplored. In this work, we elaborate a quantum mechanical description of the MIM cavity as a double barrier quantum well. We identify the square of the imaginary part κ of the refractive index ñ of the metal as the optical potential and find that MIM cavity resonances are suppressed if the ratio n/κ exceeds a certain limit, which shows that low n and high κ values are desired for strong and sharp cavity resonances. Interestingly, the spectral regions of cavity mode suppression correspond to the interband transitions of the metals, where the optical processes are intrinsically non-Hermitian. The quantum treatment allows to describe the tunnel effect for photons and reveals that the MIM cavity resonances can be excited by resonant tunneling via illumination through the metal, without the need of momentum matching techniques such as prisms or grating couplers. By combining this analysis with spectroscopic ellipsometry on experimental MIM structures and by developing a simple harmonic oscillator model of the MIM for the calculation of its effective permittivity, we show that the cavity eigenmodes coincide with low-loss zeros of the effective permittivity. Therefore, the MIM resonances correspond to epsilon-near-zero (ENZ) eigenmodes that can be excited via resonant tunneling. Our approach provides a toolbox for the engineering of ENZ resonances throughout the entire visible range, which we demonstrate experimentally and theoretically. In particular, we apply our quantum mechanical approach to asymmetric MIM superabsorbers and use it for configuring broadly tunable refractive index sensors. Our work elucidates the role of MIM cavities as photonic analogues to tunnel diodes and opens new perspectives for metamaterials with designed ENZ response.
Epsilon near zero
Ferrell-Berreman mode
metal-insulator-metal cavities
metamaterials
refractive index sensor
resonant tunneling
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11770/307119
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