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Graded index surface-plasmon-polariton devices for subwavelength light management
G. Della Valle* and S. Longhi
Dipartimento di Fisica and IFN-CNR, Politecnico di Milano, Piazza L. da Vinci 32, I-20133 Milan, Italy Received 25 August 2010; published 21 October 2010 We propose and numerically demonstrate a parabolic graded index GRIN waveguide for surface-plasmon polaritons SPPs allowing subwavelength self-imaging and focusing of SPP waves bound at a metal-dielectric interface. The GRIN structure is applied to design ultracompact multimode-interference devices for SPPs. In particular, a 4 4 cross-connect device and an efﬁcient waveguide launcher for dielectric-loaded SPP waveguides are demonstrated by full-wave numerical simulations. DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevB.82.153411 PACS number s : 73.20.Mf, 78.20.Bh, 42.25. p, 71.36. c
In the past few years, surface-plasmon polaritons SPPs have attracted a great and renewed interest for their potentiality to manipulate light at deep subwavelength scale see, for instance, Refs. 1–3 . In particular, several recent works have considered metal-dielectric nanostructures for selfimaging of SPPs, which can potentially led to challenging applications in nano-optics such as nanosteering of light and subwavelength digital imaging. Much attention has been devoted to two-dimensional 2D arrays of plasmonic waveguides4–6 because of the great ﬂexibility offered by arrays in the design and tailoring of artiﬁcial dispersion properties. Very recently, the self-imaging has been reported in a single three-dimensional 3D metal-strip plasmonic waveguide by exploiting multimode interference effect.7 Unfortunately, in the visible the self-imaging distance turned out to be much longer than the propagation length of the SPP, resulting in a signiﬁcant drop of the ﬁeld amplitude before the ﬁrst self-imaging plane. In this work, we report on a more robust approach to the self-imaging of SPP waves in a simple multimode waveguide structure allowing a complete engineering of the modal propagation constants, and thus leading to a self-imaging distance as short as few micrometer in the visible. In our proposal, a parabolic graded index GRIN waveguide for SPPs, that works similarly to an ordinary GRIN lens used in dielectric guided-wave optics, is synthesized by the application of the effective index method EIM . The self-imaging and focusing properties of the parabolic SPP-GRIN structure are then applied to the design of novel SPP devices, namely, a 4 4 cross-connect and a compact and efﬁcient waveguide launcher for dielectric-loaded SPP DLSPP waveguides. The EIM Ref. 8 has been extensively applied to predict the guiding properties of several plasmonic waveguides, including V-grooves,9 trench10 as well as DLSPP waveguides,11 and has become a very powerful tool capable of transferring into plasmonics some straightforward design concepts employed in conventional guided wave optics. A remarkable example of this approach is the Luneburg-lens for SPPs that has been recently suggested in Ref. 12. Here we propose a parabolic GRIN waveguide for SPPs to be used as a building block for the design of new plasmonic devices based on self-imaging and focusing. While the rough design of the SPP-GRIN devices is based on the EIM, full vectorial numerical simulations are presented to check the proper functionality of the proposed devices. It is well known13 that for a one-dimensional and inﬁ1098-0121/2010/82 15 /153411 4
nitely extended GRIN optical waveguide with parabolic refractive index proﬁle n2 x = n2 − g2x2, the nonparaxial solu0 tions to the Helmholtz equation yield the following expression for the propagation constants of the modes: m = k0n0 1 − 1 + 2m g / k0n2 1/2, where m 0 is the mode or0 der, k0 = 2 / 0, and 0 is the vacuum wavelength. In the paraxial limit, i.e., assuming g k0 and for a small mode order m, one obtains m k0n0 − 1 / 2 + m g / n0, i.e., the loworder modes exhibit propagation constants which differ by an integer multiple of K = g / n0. Therefore, the GRIN lens shows exact self-imaging properties, with a self-imaging period = 2 / K, and behaves for light waves like a quantum harmonic oscillator for matter waves.14 This result is expected to be valid also for multimode waveguides with ﬁnite extent provided they support a large number of modes the socalled inﬁnite-medium approximation .14 Another interesting feature of a parabolic GRIN waveguide is that it provides spatial inversion of the input ﬁeld with respect to the optical axis of the waveguide after a propagation distance of / 2 whereas a / 4 GRIN waveguide provides focusing of the input ﬁeld.13 To design a parabolic GRIN waveguide for SPPs, we ﬁrst considered a metal-dielectric-dielectric planar structure, which is composed of a semi-inﬁnite metal silver , a high refractive index dielectric of thickness t i.e., a load and a semi-inﬁnite air medium inset of Fig. 1 . By following a similar analysis as the one reported in Ref. 15, it is straightforward to derive the dispersion equation for the antisymmetric SPP mode supported by this structure,
FIG. 1. Color online Effective index of the SPP fundamental mode bound at a dielectric-loaded silver-air interface see inset , as a function of the dielectric load thickness at = 633 nm. 1 = Ag = −16.87+ 0.481i in agreement with Ref. 7, 2 = 3.24, 3 = 1. ©2010 The American Physical Society
4.0 3.5 Exact Approx.
PHYSICAL REVIEW B 82, 153411 2010
3.0 2.5 2.0 1.5 1.0 150
t (x) (nm)
100 50 0 -2.0 2.0 1.8 1.6 1.4 1.2 1.0 1
Mode Eff. Index
EI computation FEM computation 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
FIG. 2. Color online a Effective refractive index proﬁles n2 x for the exact solid curve and approximate dotted curve plasmonic GRIN structure designed from data of Fig. 1. Horizontal lines correspond to the ﬁrst ten modes. b Exact solid curve and approximated dotted curve structural proﬁle corresponding to the effective refractive index proﬁles in a . c Comparison between EIM and FEM computation of the modal effective indices for the approximated GRIN waveguide with triangular structural proﬁle shown in b dashed line .
2k 2 1k 3 + 3k 1 2 2 1 3k 2 + 2k 1k 3
FIG. 3. Color online 3D FEM simulations showing the magnetic ﬁeld component Hx of a subwavelength focused SPP wave on a cross-sectional plane 2 nm below the metal-dielectric interface at 633 nm wavelength for a free propagation along a uniform silver-air interface and b propagation in the approximated parabolic GRIN waveguide of Fig. 2 b .
tanh k2t =
1 base w 3.80 m of the triangular proﬁle was determined by ﬁtting the effective index of the ﬁrst ten modes of the exact parabolic GRIN waveguide Fig. 2 a . Finite-elementmethod FEM simulations with Comsol Multiphysics 3.5 of the approximated GRIN structure conﬁrmed the general features of our design Fig. 2 c but indicated a larger separation between the effective indices of the modes, resulting in a correction due to deviations from paraxiality to the self-imaging period of about −17%, giving 9.2 m. From FEM analysis, we also estimated an average propaga10 tion distance of the ﬁrst ten modes L prop = 1 / 10 m=1L prop,m −1 5 m where L prop,m = 2nmk0 and nm is the imaginary part of the effective index of the mth mode , resulting in a 0.5, which is a ﬁvefold improvement with ratio L prop / respect to self-imaging in metal-strip multimode plasmonic waveguides.7 To corroborate the EIM and the 2D FEM eigenmode analysis, we also performed 3D FEM simulations of the SPP-GRIN waveguide with the triangular structural proﬁle reported in Fig. 2 b under deep subwavelength excitation. Figure 3 a shows the magnetic ﬁeld diffraction pattern exhibited by an SPP wave of initial i.e., at z = 0 plane transverse Gaussian distribution with full width at half maximum
where k1,2,3 = 2 − 1,2,3k2, and = t + i t is the propa0 gation constant of the SPP mode which is determined by numerically solving Eq. 1 as a function of t. The resulting effective index nef f t = t / k0 is shown in Fig. 1 for = 633 nm. With nef f t at hand, we designed the truncated parabolic effective index proﬁle n2 x = n2 − g2x2 of Fig. 2 a 0 solid line with full size w and refractive indices n0 and n1 at x = 0 and x = w / 2, respectively. Taking n1 = nef f t = 0 i.e., the mode effective index of the SPP bound at the silver-air interface , n0 = nef f t = 150 nm , and a full width of the waveguide w = 3 m yields g = 2 n2 − n2 1/2 / w 1.100 m−1 and 0 1 a self-imaging period = 2 n0 / g 11.1 m. The metaldielectric-dielectric structural proﬁle t x was then computed by numerically solving the equation n x = nef f t . Though the exact structural proﬁle t x corresponding to the parabolic n x proﬁle is quite complicated Fig. 2 b solid line , it turned out that a triangular approximation of t x Fig. 2 b , dashed line also exhibits an almost parabolic effective index proﬁle Fig. 2 a , dashed line and thus a discrete spectrum of almost equally spaced modes. The full width i.e., the
PHYSICAL REVIEW B 82, 153411 2010
FIG. 4. Color online 3D FEM simulations of a 4 4 crossconnect based on the / 2 GRIN waveguide showing the magnetic ﬁeld component Hx of the SPP wave on a cross-sectional plane 2 nm below the metal-dielectric interface at 633 nm wavelength for cross-connection between a input port 1 and output port 4 and b input port 3 and output port 2. The cross sections of input z = 1 m and output z = 4.6 m ﬁelds Hx 2 are also reported in c .
of 175 nm when propagating along a uniform silver-air interface. Figure 3 b shows the magnetic ﬁeld pattern along the GRIN waveguide under the same excitation conditions as in Fig. 3 a . Note that due to the even symmetry of the input ﬁeld with respect to the x axis, it was possible to adopt a / 2 = 4.6 m GRIN structure allowing self-imaging apart from a -phase shift with the advantage of a lower propagation loss PL which we estimated as PL = −10 log10 exp 4 dB. − / 2L prop As previously mentioned, a / 2 GRIN waveguide is capable of another interesting operation, namely, the inversion of the input ﬁeld distribution with respect to the waveguide axis. This feature can be exploited to design a plasmonic cross-connect, i.e., a multiport plasmonic device providing the crossing of input signals, which is an essential feature in any integrated technology for signal processing from electronics to optics to plasmonics . Such a device can be easily designed by coupling a / 2 GRIN waveguide to a set of N input and output dielectric-loaded single-mode channel waveguides. As an example, we designed a 4 4 port device with 600 nm interleaved input and output DLSPP waveguides. The parameters of the waveguide port 200-nmwide and 50-nm-thick dielectric load with 1.8 refractive in-
FIG. 5. Color online 3D FEM simulations of the a GRINbased and b funnel launcher designed for DLSPP single-mode waveguides, showing the magnetic ﬁeld Hx component 2 nm below the metal-dielectric interface = 633 nm . Vertical xy plane shows the normalized power ﬂux along z direction at the output z = 4.5 m . c Normalized cross-sectional proﬁles of Hx 2 at the output y = 0 , z = 4.5 m .
dex were optimized to achieve high coupling efﬁciency to the particular GRIN structure above illustrated. Figures 4 a and 4 b show the magnetic ﬁeld pattern at the metaldielectric interface after excitation at input port 1 and input port 3, respectively. As can be seen, the input signal at port 1 is transferred to output port 4 and the input signal at port 3 is transferred to output port 2, thus realizing a cross connection between input and output plasmonic networks. From FEM simulations, we also estimated total power loss from input to output port including input coupling loss from port waveguide to GRIN structure, propagation loss along the GRIN structure, and output coupling loss from GRIN to port waveguide of about 4.4 dB Fig. 4 c . This value is only 0.4 dB higher than the propagation loss previously estimated for the / 2 GRIN structure, indicating that coupling loss at input and output sections of the device is as low as 0.2 dB/facet. Another possible application of a GRIN-SPP waveguide is for coupling SPPs into a DLSPP single-mode waveguide, by exploiting the subwavelength focusing properties of a / 4 GRIN structure. In order to make the launcher as compact as possible, the GRIN was designed with / 4 = 2 1.27 m and a lower refractive index dielectric load was
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considered 2 = 2.56 instead of 3.24 . The full width of the GRIN was w 1.5 m. Figure 5 a shows FEM simulations of such a launcher under excitation with a relatively broad SPP wave of Gaussian distribution FWHM= 2 m ; for comparison, Fig. 5 b depicts FEM simulations for a typical launcher based on tapering design i.e., a funnel with the same aperture w under the same excitation conditions. Comparison of the performance of the two launchers is also detailed by showing the cross section at y = 0 of the magnetic ﬁeld intensity Hx 2 coupled into the same DLSPP waveguide with 250 200 nm2 cross section . Note that the GRIN design allows a 40% improvement of the coupling efﬁciency with respect to the funnel design. A more adiabatic i.e., longer funnel taper could lower the scattering losses, however this would introduce higher propagation losses at this wavelength. Our design is therefore competitive in the visible where the employment of adiabatic structures is limited by the high propagation losses of the SPP modes. It is worth noting that state-of-the-art grayscale electronbeam lithography was recently demonstrated to provide 3D nanoimprint stamps with both sharp features and continuous proﬁles,16 thus making fabrication of the devices reported in
the present paper feasible by means of nanoimprinting technology.17 In conclusion, we proposed a graded-index waveguide for surface-plasmon polaritons allowing subwavelength selfimaging and focusing of light. The GRIN design stems from the effective index method and has been numerically validated by standard ﬁnite-elements computation. As compared to previous proposals of subwavelength self-imaging in three-dimensional multimode plasmonic waveguides, our approach allows an accurate engineering of the multimode interference effect by exploiting the same features offered by GRIN structures in conventional optics. As a noteworthy application of SPP-GRIN-based structures, we demonstrated a cross-connect and a compact and efﬁcient waveguide launcher for dielectric-loaded SPPs waveguides in the visible. Finally, being our approach scalable to telecom wavelengths it is expected to motivate further investigations on plasmonic multimode-interference devices based on design schemes borrowed from conventional waveguide optics. This work was supported by the Italian MIUR Grant No. PRIN-2008-YCAAK, “Analogie ottico-quantistiche in strutture fotoniche a guida d’onda” .
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