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Plasmon Induced Transparency in Metamaterials - 2008

Plasmon Induced Transparency in Metamaterials - 2008

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Published by CXXXVII
A plasmonic ‘‘molecule’’ consisting of a radiative element coupled with a subradiant (dark) element is theoretically investigated. The plasmonic molecule shows electromagnetic response that closely resembles the electromagnetically induced transparency in an atomic system. Because of its subwavelength dimension, this electromagnetically induced transparency-like molecule can be used as a building block to construct a ‘‘slow light’’ plasmonic metamaterial.
A plasmonic ‘‘molecule’’ consisting of a radiative element coupled with a subradiant (dark) element is theoretically investigated. The plasmonic molecule shows electromagnetic response that closely resembles the electromagnetically induced transparency in an atomic system. Because of its subwavelength dimension, this electromagnetically induced transparency-like molecule can be used as a building block to construct a ‘‘slow light’’ plasmonic metamaterial.

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Plasmon-Induced Transparency in Metamaterials
Shuang Zhang, Dentcho A. Genov, Yuan Wang, Ming Liu, and Xiang Zhang*
 Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center, University of California, 5130 Etcheverry Hall, Berkeley, California 94720-1740, USA
(Received 19 December 2007; revised manuscript received 14 May 2008; published 23 July 2008)A plasmonic ‘‘molecule’’ consisting of a radiative element coupled with a subradiant (dark) element istheoretically investigated. The plasmonic molecule shows electromagnetic response that closely resem-bles the electromagnetically induced transparency in an atomic system. Because of its subwavelengthdimension, this electromagnetically induced transparency-like molecule can be used as a building block toconstruct a ‘slow light’’ plasmonic metamaterial.
DOI:10.1103/PhysRevLett.101.047401PACS numbers: 78.20.Ci, 42.25.Bs, 78.67.Pt
The localized surface plasmon has received much atten-tion due to the interesting physics and important applica-tions such as fluorescence resonance energy transfer andenhanced Raman scatterings [1,2]. The interaction be- tween two or more plasmonic particles gives rise to inter-esting hybridization of the plasmonic modes, which can beutilized to tune the resonance frequency of the system [3].Recently, the merging of plasmonics and metamaterialsareas has led to the achievement of magnetic and negativeindex metamaterials in the optical frequencies, which mayopen up a new perspective towards achieving ultimatecontrol of light in the nanoscale dimension [46]. A plasmonic mode can be either superradiant (radiativemode) or subradiant (dark mode) depending on how strongan incident light from free space can be coupled into theplasmonic mode [7]. The radiative mode has a large scat-tering cross section and a low quality factor due to theradiation coupling. On the contrary, the dark mode nor-mally has a significantly larger quality factor, which islimited only by the loss of the metal. Naturally, this leadsto the analogy of the dark mode with a metastable level inan atomic system. The metastable energy level is necessaryfor the realization of an electromagnetically induced trans-parency (EIT) medium [810]. For instance, in a three- level atomic EIT system, the coupling between an energylevel (
j
2
i
) with a dipole-allowed transition to the groundstate (
j
1
i
) and a metastable level (
j
3
i
) by a pumping beamleads to a destructive interference between two pathways,namely,
j
1
iÿj
2
i
and
j
1
iÿj
2
iÿj
3
iÿj
2
i
[11]. This de-structive interference results in a narrow transparent win-dowwithin a broader absorption band. Recently,analogs of the EIT system using coupled microsize optical resonatorshave been proposed [1218], which bring the original quantum phenomena into the realm of classical optics. Inorder to achieve the ultimate goal of a nanosized activeoptical circuit with switching and modulation capabilities,and in the pursuit of effective media exhibiting EIT-likeoptical properties, ‘light slowing’elements with deepsubwavelength features are highly desired. In this Letter,weproposea coupled radiative-darkplasmonic mechanismto mimic the functionality of an atomic EIT system. Thisnew approach is then used to construct the first EIT-likeoptical metamaterial consisting of coupled nanoscale plas-monic resonators. The plasmonic metamaterial has well-defined EIT-like effective properties and opens up thepossibilities to construct devices of various scales andshapes while maintaining consistent optical propertiesthat do not depend on the dimensions of the device. Theycan be designed for applications in either free space opticsor an integrated optical circuit and, in particular, for slowlight and enhanced nonlinear effects [19,20]. Additionally, it is interesting to note that the metamaterial approachtoward EIT presented in this work and the recent theoreti-cal propositions of using atomic EIT processes to achievenegative index materials [21,22] are examples how the development in one field inspires the other.We begin by introducing a general description of an EIT-like plasmonic ‘‘molecule.’’ The molecule consists of twoartificial ‘atoms,a radiative plasmonic state
j
a
i
~
a
!
e
i!t
, which strongly couples with the incident field
E
0
~
E
0
e
i!t
, and a dark plasmonic state
j
b
i
~
b
!
e
i!t
,which weakly couples to the incident light; both have aresonant frequency
!
0
. For frequency close to the reso-nance
!
ÿ
!
0
!
0
, and assuming that the dampingfactors of the two resonators satisfy
b
a
!
0
, thefield amplitude of both states (elements) can be describedas linearly coupled Lorentzian oscillators
 
~
a
~
b
ÿ
i
a
i
b
ÿ
1
g
~
E
0
0
 ;
(1)where
is the coupling between the two atoms and
g
is ageometric parameter indicating how strong the radiativemode (element) couples with the incident electromagneticwave. In Eq. (1), we have assumed the dark plasmonicatom does not couple with the incident light. The ampli-tude of the dipole response of the radiative atom is given as
 
~
a
ÿ
g
~
E
0
i
b
i
a

i
b
ÿ
2
:
(2)A short inspection of the above expression shows thatthe polarizability of the molecule, which is proportional tothe amplitude
~
a
of the radiative atom, has a very similarform as that in the EIT atomic system, especially in thecase of zero detuning of the coupling laser frequency fromPRL
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=
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=
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=
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2008 The American Physical Society
 
the corresponding atomic transition [11]. Provided theplasmonic molecule is much smaller than the wavelengthof light, an effective medium can be constructed by thesebuilding blocks. The susceptibility of such an effectivemedium is proportional to the amplitude
~
a
, and assuminga small detuning
f
a
 ;
b
 ;
g
, to the second-orderapproximation we can write
 
r
i
i
2
ÿ
2
b
2
a
b
2
i
b
2
a
b
iO
2
:
(3)The real part of the susceptibility disappears at trans-parency frequency (zero detuning). Since the second-orderderivative of 
r
is zero, there is no dispersion in groupvelocity, and a pulse centered at the transparency fre-quency will travel through the medium without distortion.In the ideal case of 
b
0
, the imaginary part of thesusceptibility disappears, leading to an optically transpar-ent effective medium. From Eq. (3), the slope of the realparts of susceptibility is inversely proportional to
2
; e.g., asmaller coupling coefficient will result in a slower groupvelocity. On the other hand, in the realistic case of a finite
b
,
2
needs to be sufficiently large to keep
i
close tozero. Thus, there is a trade-off between a small loss and alarge dispersion, which needs to be carefully balanced inthe design of the EIT-like plasmonic elements.Based on the above considerations, we turn to a specificdesign of a nanoplasmonic molecule for the realization of the EIT-like system. First we recognize that a simple metalstrip may function as an optical dipole antenna [23] andthus could serve as the radiative or ‘‘bright atom’’ in theEIT-like plasmonic system. The resonance frequency of the metal strip can be readily tuned by varying its spatialdimension. Figure1(a)shows the electric field amplitudeversus frequency calculated near one of the metal stripends. The numerical calculation is carried out using thecommercial finite difference time domain (FDTD) soft-ware package (CST Microwave Studio), and silver is se-lected as a material due to low intrinsic loss [24]. For thechosen geometry, the resonance frequency is around429 THz (
699 nm
, more than 5 times the antennalength), with a quality factor
Q
11
:
8
, estimated fromthe linewidth of the resonance peak. The quality factor ismainly limited by the radiation dissipation, which com-prises a large part of the total loss.The dark atom consists of two parallel metal strips witha small separation, as shown in Fig.1(b). This configura-tion has symmetric and antisymmetric modes, whose reso-nances are separated in the frequency domain. Theantisymmetric mode has counterpropagating currents onthe two strips; therefore, there is no direct electrical dipolecoupling with the radiation wave, and it can be consideredas a dark mode with a significantly longer dephasing time.We note that this parallel-metal-strip configuration hasserved as an artificial magnetic dipole in the optical fre-quencies [6]. The antisymmetric resonance frequency of the dark atom is designed to coincide with that of theradiative atom [see Fig.1(b)], thus being consistent withthe general model described before. The quality factor of the dark atom is
Q
82
, which is about 1 order of magni-tude larger than that of the radiative atom. The qualityfactor of the dark atom is limited by the metal loss, whichmay be improved by incorporating gain medium.In contrast to an atomic EIT system, where the couplingbetween two energy levels is realized with a pump beam,the coupling between the radiative and dark atoms in theplasmonic EIT system is determined by their spatial sepa-ration [Fig.2(a)]. Figure2(b)shows both real and imagi- nary parts of the electric field probed at the end of theradiative metal strip [red arrow in Fig.2(a)] for differentseparations between the radiative and dark atoms. Notethat the field is the sum of the incident light and the dipoleresponse of the radiative atom; as a result, it is linearlyrelated to the dipole polarizability. Thus, by investigatingthe field response, we can gain insight into the effectivesusceptibility of the system. For all separations, the cou-pling between the radiative and dark atoms leads to anarrowdip at the center of the broadpeak for the imaginarypart of electric field, which confirms the EIT-like destruc-tive interference between the two pathways: direct dipoleexcitation of the radiative atom from the incident wave and
FIG. 1 (color online). (a) Left: The schematic of a silveroptical antenna which functions as a radiative atom. The geo-metric parameters
1
,
L
1
, and
t
are 50, 128, and 20 nm,respectively. A plane wave is incident along the
z
direction, with
 ~ E
and
along the
x
and
y
directions. Right: The spectralresponse of an
E
 x
probe (red arrow) placed 10 nm from thecenter of the end facet of the antenna. (b) Left: The schematic of a pair of metal strips forming a dark plasmonic atom. Thegeometric parameters
2
,
L
2
, and
s
are 30, 100, and 30 nm,respectively. The incident wave vector lies in the
y
-
z
plane andis tilted 45
from the
z
direction, with the electric field along the
 x
direction (perpendicular to the metal strips). Right: The spec-tral response of an
E
y
probe (red arrow) placed 10 nm from thecenter of the end facet of one of the metal strips in the dark atom.
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excitation of the dark atom (by the radiative atom) cou-pling back to the radiative atom. At a large separation of 100 nm, where the coupling is weak, the contrast of the dipis very small, which is due to the finite quality factor of theresonance in the dark atom. With the increase of coupling(decreasing separation), the dip widens and becomesdeeper, similar to the quantum EIT in an atomic system.At the frequency corresponding to the transparency (dip inthe imaginary part of the field), the real part of the electricfield shows a highly dispersive behavior, indicating that alight pulse travels at a significantly lower group velocity ina metamaterial consisting of this coupled plasmonic sys-tem. To visualize this destructive interference between thetwo pathways, we compare the 2D distribution of an elec-tric field at 428.4 THz for the radiative antenna uncoupled[Fig.2(c), left] and coupled with the dark atom [Fig.2(c), right]. Without coupling to the dark atom, the radiativeantenna is strongly excited by the incident plane wave witha highelectric field formingat itsendfacets. Byplacing thedark atom 40 nm from the radiative one, the electromag-netic field is coupled back and forth between the radiativeand dark atoms, leading to a destructive interference and asuppressed state in the radiative atom with a much weakerelectric field at its ends.Next, we consider an optical EIT-like metamaterial withthe coupled radiative-dark molecule as its building blocks[Fig.3(a)]. In the following discussion, the separation
FIG. 3. (a) The schematic of a plasmonic EIT metamaterial.The transmission spectra (b) and the real part of the susceptibil-ity (c) for one (black curve), two (black dashed curve), three(gray curve), and four (gray dashed curve) layers of metamate-rial. The inset in (b) shows the natural logarithm of peak trans-mission vs the number of layers along the propagation directionat the transparency frequency.FIG. 2 (color online). (a) Top view of the plasmonic systemconsisting of a radiative element and a dark element with aseparation
d
, with light incident at the normal direction. (b) Thereal part and imaginary part of a
E
 x
probe placed at 10 nm fromthe end facet of the radiative antenna red arrow in (a) forseparations ranging from 40 to 100 nm between the radiativeand dark elements. (c) The 2D field plot of an uncoupledradiative atom (left) and a radiative atom coupled with a dark atom with a separation of 40 nm (right) at a frequency of 428.4 THz, as indicated by the red triangle in (b).
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