Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors


Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


DHgate

Home > Press > Researchers discover a new path for light through metal: Novel plasmonic material may merge photonic and electronic technologies

This image shows a) Excitation by light of a surface plasmon-polariton on a thin film of titanium nitride. b) Atomic force microscope image of the surface of titanium nitride film. The mean roughness of the film is 0.5 nm. c) Scanning electron microscopy image of TiN thin film on sapphire. The texture shows multivariant epitaxial (crystalline) growth.

Credit: Alexandra Boltasseva, Purdue University/Optical Materials Express.
This image shows a) Excitation by light of a surface plasmon-polariton on a thin film of titanium nitride. b) Atomic force microscope image of the surface of titanium nitride film. The mean roughness of the film is 0.5 nm. c) Scanning electron microscopy image of TiN thin film on sapphire. The texture shows multivariant epitaxial (crystalline) growth.

Credit: Alexandra Boltasseva, Purdue University/Optical Materials Express.

Abstract:
Helping bridge the gap between photonics and electronics, researchers from Purdue University have coaxed a thin film of titanium nitride into transporting plasmons, tiny electron excitations coupled to light that can direct and manipulate optical signals on the nanoscale. Titanium nitride's addition to the short list of surface-plasmon-supporting materials, formerly comprised only of metals, could point the way to a new class of optoelectronic devices with unprecedented speed and efficiency.

Researchers discover a new path for light through metal: Novel plasmonic material may merge photonic and electronic technologies

Washington, DC | Posted on March 27th, 2012

"We have found that titanium nitride is a promising candidate for an entirely new class of technologies based on plasmonics and metamaterials," said Alexandra Boltasseva, a researcher at Purdue and an author on a paper published today in the Optical Society's (OSA (http://www.osa.org)) open-access journal Optical Materials Express (http://www.opticsinfobase.org/ome). "This is particularly compelling because surface plasmons resolve a basic mismatch between wavelength-scale optical devices and the much smaller components of integrated electronic circuits."

Value of Plasmons

Metals carry electricity with ease, but normally do nothing to transmit light waves. Surface plasmons, unusual light-coupled oscillations that form on the surface of metallic materials, are the exception to that rule. When excited on the surface of metals by light waves of specific frequencies, plasmons are able to retain that same frequency, but with wavelengths that are orders-of-magnitude smaller, cramming visible and near-infrared light into the realm of the nanoscale.

In the world of electronics and optics, that 100-fold contraction is a boon. Circuits that direct the paths of electrons operate on a much smaller scale than optical light waves, so engineers must either rely on small but relatively sluggish electrons for information processing or bulk up to accommodate the zippy photons. Plasmons represent the best of both worlds and are already at the heart of a number of optoelectronic devices. They have not had widespread use, however, due to the dearth of materials that readily generate them and the fact that metals, in most cases, cannot be integrated with semiconductor devices.

Plasmonic Materials

Until now, the best candidates for plasmonic materials were gold and silver. These noble metals, however, are not compatible with standard silicon manufacturing technologies, limiting their use in commercial products. Silver is the metal with the best optical and surface plasmon properties, but it forms grainy, or semi-continuous, thin films. Silver also easily degrades in air, which causes loss of optical signal, making it a less-attractive material in plasmon technologies.

In an effort to overcome these drawbacks, Boltasseva and her team chose to study titanium nitride—a ceramic material that is commonly used as a barrier metal in microelectronics and to coat metal surfaces such as medical implants or machine tooling parts—because they could manipulate its properties in the manufacturing process. It also could be easily integrated into silicon products, and grown crystal-by-crystal, forming highly uniform, ultrathin films—properties that metals do not share.

To test its plasmonic capabilities, the researchers deposited a very thin, very even film of titanium nitride on a sapphire surface. They were able to confirm that titanium nitride supported the propagation of surface plasmons almost as efficiently as gold. Silver, under perfect conditions, was still more efficient for plasmonic applications, but its acknowledged signal loss limited its practical applications.

To further improve the performance of titanium nitride, the researchers are now looking into a manufacturing method known as molecular beam epitaxy, which would enable them to grow the films and layered structures known as superlattices crystal-by-crystal.

Technologies and Potential Applications

In addition to plasmonics, the researchers also speculate that titanium nitride may have applications in metamaterials, which are engineered materials that can be tailored for almost any application because of their extraordinary response to electromagnetic, acoustic, and thermal waves. Recently proposed applications of metamaterials include invisibility cloaks, optical black holes, nanoscale optics, data storage, and quantum information processing.

The search for alternatives to noble metals with improved optical properties, easier fabrication and integration capabilities could ultimately lead to real-life applications for plasmonics and metamaterials.

"Plasmonics is an important technology for nanoscale optical circuits, sensing, and data storage because it can focus light down to nanoscale," notes Boltasseva. "Titanium nitride is a promising candidate in the near-infrared and visible wavelength ranges. Unlike gold and silver, titanium nitride is compatible with standard semiconductor manufacturing technology and provides many advantages in its nanofabrication and integration."

According to the researchers, titanium nitride-based devices could provide nearly the same performance for some plasmonic applications. While noble metals like silver would still be the best choice for specific applications like negative index metamaterials, titanium nitride could outperform noble metals in other metamaterial and transformation optics devices, such as those based on hyperbolic metamaterials.

####

About Optical Society of America
Uniting more than 130,000 professionals from 175 countries, the Optical Society (OSA) brings together the global optics community through its programs and initiatives. Since 1916 OSA has worked to advance the common interests of the field, providing educational resources to the scientists, engineers and business leaders who work in the field by promoting the science of light and the advanced technologies made possible by optics and photonics. OSA publications, events, technical groups and programs foster optics knowledge and scientific collaboration among all those with an interest in optics and photonics. For more information, visit www.osa.org.

About Optical Materials Express

Optical Materials Express (OMEx) is OSA's newest peer-reviewed, open-access journal focusing on the synthesis, processing and characterization of materials for applications in optics and photonics. OMEx, which launched in April 2011, primarily emphasizes advances in novel optical materials, their properties, modeling, synthesis and fabrication techniques; how such materials contribute to novel optical behavior; and how they enable new or improved optical devices. For more information, visit www.OpticsInfoBase.org/OMEx.

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Angela Stark

202-416-1443

Copyright © Optical Society of America

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related Links

Paper: "Titanium nitride as a plasmonic material for visible and near-infrared wavelengths," Naik et al., Optical Materials Express, Vol. Vol. 2, Issue 4, pp. 478-489 (2012):

Related News Press

News and information

JPK reports on the use of a NanoWizard AFM system at the University of Kaiserslautern to study the interaction of bacteria with microstructured surfaces April 28th, 2016

University of Illinois researchers create 1-step graphene patterning method April 27th, 2016

Nanograft seeded with 3 cell types promotes blood vessel formation to speed wound healing April 27th, 2016

NREL finds nanotube semiconductors well-suited for PV systems April 27th, 2016

Thin films

Flipping a chemical switch helps perovskite solar cells beat the heat April 26th, 2016

Thin-film solar cells: How defects appear and disappear in CIGSe cells: Concentration of copper plays a crucial role April 23rd, 2016

Making electronics out of coal: Instead of burning up this complex hydrocarbon, let's make devices from it April 20th, 2016

Atomically thin sensor detects harmful air pollution in the home April 18th, 2016

Memory Technology

Magnetic vortices defy temperature fluctuations: Common magnetic mineral is reliable witness to Earth's history April 19th, 2016

A single-atom magnet breaks new ground for future data storage April 15th, 2016

Topology explains queer electrical current boost in non-magnetic metal: Scientists reduce resistance in PdCoO2 with magnetic fields April 12th, 2016

Ames Laboratory physicists discover new material that may speed computing April 12th, 2016

Discoveries

Nanograft seeded with 3 cell types promotes blood vessel formation to speed wound healing April 27th, 2016

NREL finds nanotube semiconductors well-suited for PV systems April 27th, 2016

Danish researchers behind vaccine breakthrough April 27th, 2016

NREL theory establishes a path to high-performance 2-D semiconductor devices April 27th, 2016

Materials/Metamaterials

University of Illinois researchers create 1-step graphene patterning method April 27th, 2016

NREL finds nanotube semiconductors well-suited for PV systems April 27th, 2016

Atomic magnets using hydrogen and graphene April 27th, 2016

ORIG3N Added to Companies Presenting at Harris & Harris Group's Annual Meeting, Tuesday June 7, 2016, the New York Genome Center April 27th, 2016

Announcements

JPK reports on the use of a NanoWizard AFM system at the University of Kaiserslautern to study the interaction of bacteria with microstructured surfaces April 28th, 2016

University of Illinois researchers create 1-step graphene patterning method April 27th, 2016

Researchers create artificial protein to control assembly of buckyballs April 27th, 2016

Chemists use DNA to build the world's tiniest thermometer April 27th, 2016

Photonics/Optics/Lasers

NREL theory establishes a path to high-performance 2-D semiconductor devices April 27th, 2016

Physicists detect the enigmatic spin momentum of light April 26th, 2016

Rare Earth atoms see the light: Physicist Dirk Bouwmeester discovers a promising route for combined optical and solid state-based quantum information processing April 25th, 2016

Manipulating light inside opaque layers April 24th, 2016

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE




  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project







Car Brands
Buy website traffic