The ever-increasing demand for faster information transport and processing capabilities is undeniable. Our data-hungry society has driven enormous progress in the Si electronics industry and we have witnessed a continuous progression towards smaller, faster, and more efficient electronic devices over the last five decades. The scaling of these devices has also brought about a myriad of challenges. Currently, two of the most daunting problems preventing significant increases in processor speed are thermal and signal delay issues associated with electronic interconnection. Optical interconnects, on the other hand, possess an almost unimaginably large data carrying capacity, and may offer interesting new solutions for circumventing these problems. Optical alternatives may be particularly attractive for future chips with more distributed architectures in which a multitude of fast electronic computing units (cores) need to be connected by high-speed links. Unfortunately, their implementation is hampered by the large size mismatch between electronic and dielectric photonic components. Dielectric photonic devices are limited in size by the fundamental laws of diffraction to about half a wavelength of light and tend to be at least one or two orders of magnitude larger than their nanoscale electronic counterparts. This obvious size mismatch between electronic and photonic components presents a major challenge for interfacing these technologies. Further progress will require the development of a radically new chip-scale device technology that can facilitate information transport between nanoscale devices at optical frequencies and bridge the gap between the world of nanoscale electronics and microscale photonics. Plasmons are being considered as a means of transmitting information on computer chips, since plasmons can support much higher frequencies (into the 100 THz range, while conventional wires become very lossy in the tens of GHz). For plasmon-based electronics to be useful, the analog to the transistor, called a plasmonster


3.Metal nanostructures may possess exactly the right combination of electronic and optical properties to tackle the issues outlined above and realize the dream of significantly faster processing speeds. In some cases. Their electromagnetic field intensity is highest at the surface and decays exponentially away from the interface. such as Cu and Al interconnects. SPPs are electromagnetic waves that propagate along a metal-dielectric interface and are coupled to the free electrons in the metal It is important to realize that. Fig. Current Si-based integrated circuit technology already uses nanoscale metallic structures. These waves are transverse magnetic in nature. The metals commonly used in electrical interconnection such as Cu and Al allow the excitation of surface plasmon-polaritons (SPPs). 1 An SPP propagating along a metal-dielectric interface. to route electronic signals between transistors on a chip. an SPP can be viewed as a special type of light wave propagating along the metal surface. with the latest advances in electromagnetic simulations and current complementary metal-oxide semiconductor (CMOS)-compatible fabrication techniques. plasmonic waveguides may even perform a dual function and simultaneously carry both optical and electrical signals. IMAGING SPPS WITH A PHOTON SCANNING TUNNELING MICROSCOPE 2 . giving rise to exciting new capabilities. This mature processing technology can thus be used to our advantage in integrating plasmonic devices with their electronic and dielectric photonic counterparts. a variety of functional plasmonic structures can be designed and fabricated in a Si foundry right now. From an engineering standpoint.

2a shows how a microscope objective at the heart of our PSTM can be used to focus a laser beam onto a metal film at a well-defined angle and thereby launch an SPP along the top metal surface. PSTMs are the tool of choice for characterizing SPP propagation along extended films as well as metal stripe waveguides Fig. The red arrow shows how an SPP is launched from an excitation spot onto a metal film surface using a high numerical aperture microscope objective. by scanning the tip over the metal surface. A sharp. The scattered light is then detected with a photomultiplier tube. we constructed a photon scanning tunneling microscope (PSTM) by modifying a commercially available scanning near-field optical microscope. the propagation of SPPs can be imaged. This method of exciting SPPs makes use of the well-known Kretschmann geometry that enables phase matching of the free space excitation beam and the SPP. 2b and 2c) is used to tap into the guided SPP wave locally and scatter light toward a far-field detector. 3 . metal-coated pyramidal tip (Figs. 2 (a) Schematic of the operation of a PSTM that enables the study of SPP propagation along metal film surfaces. The signal provides a measure of the local light intensity right underneath the tip and. These particular tips have a nanoscale aperture at the top of the pyramid through which light can be collected.In order to study the propagation of SPPs. Fig.

The back reflection of the SPP from the grating results in the standing wave interference pattern observed in the image. Fig 3(d) SEM image of a Au film into which a Bragg grating has been fabricated using a FIB. 2d).(e) PSTM image of an SPP wave launched along the metal film toward the Bragg grating. 4 . Light can be collected or emitted through a ~50 nm hole fabricated in the Al film on the top of the pyramid. By scanning the tip over the sample and measuring the intensity at each tip position. The scattered light is detected in the far-field. Fig. 2e shows a PSTM image of an SPP wave excited with a 780 nm wavelength laser and directed toward the Bragg grating. a focused ion beam (FIB) was used to define a series of parallel grooves. The tip consists of a micro fabricated. In close proximity to the surface. hollow glass pyramid coated with an optically thick layer of Al. The operation of the PSTM can be illustrated by investigating the propagation of SPPs on a patterned Au film (Fig. From this type of experiment the wavelength of SPPs can be determined in a straightforward manner and compared to theory. (c) A cross-sectional view of the same hollow pyramidal tip after a large section was cut out of the sidewall with a focused ion beam (FIB).Fig 2(b) Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) image of the near field optical cantilever probe used in our experiments. The back reflection of the SPP from the Bragg grating results in the observation of a standing wave interference pattern. which serve as a Bragg grating to reflect SPP waves. the pyramidal tip can tap into the propagating SPP and scatter out a little bit of light through the ~ 50 nm hole (shown pictorially). images of propagating SPPs can be created. providing a measure of the local field intensity right underneath the tip. Here.

offering a peek inside the box. The PSTM provides a clear advantage by providing a direct method to observe the inner workings of plasmonic devices. 5 . it is possible to create new capabilities by capitalizing on an additional strongpoint of metallic nanostructures. surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) is widely used in the field of biology. the device operation is inferred from responses measured at output ports to different stimuli provided at the input ports. Even greater enhancements can be obtained near carefully engineered metal optical antenna structures that basically resemble scaled-down versions of a car antenna. This is quite different from typical characterization procedures for photonic devices in which the device is seen as a black box with input and output ports. This technique makes use of the enhanced electromagnetic fields near metallic nanostructures to study the structure and composition of organic and biological materials. Enhancement factors on the order of 100 have been predicted and observed for spherical particles. For example. PLASMONICS CAN BRIDGE MICROSCALE PHOTONICS AND NANOSCALE ELECTRONICS Based on the data presented above. In such cases. Despite the numerous studies on antennas in the microwave and optical regimes. low-loss.The PSTM can also be used to image SPP propagation directly in plasmonic structures and devices of more complex architecture to determine their behavior. it is unlikely that such waveguides will be able to compete with well-established. This capability has been employed to enhance a diversity of nonlinear optical phenomena. Recently. it seems that the propagation lengths for Plasmonic waveguides are too short to propagate SPPs with high confinement over the length of an entire chip (~1 cm). 4. Si3N4. such antennas have even enabled single molecule studies by SERS and white-light super continuum generation. high-confinement Si. Metal nanostructures have a unique ability to concentrate light into nanoscale volumes. However. Although the manufacturability of long-range SPP waveguides may well be straightforward within a CMOS foundry. or other dielectric waveguides. their application to solve current issues in chip-scale interconnection has remained largely unexplored.

5. Schematic of how a nanoscale antenna structure can serve as a bridge between microscale dielectric components and nanoscale electronic devices. and high-speed operation.This diagram shows a detail of a chip on which optical signals are routed through conventional dielectric optical waveguides.The field concentrating abilities of optical antennas may serve to bridge the large gap between microscale dielectric photonic devices and nanoscale electronics . low-noise. we play to the strengths of metallic nanostructures (concentrating fields and subwavelength guiding). The mode size of such waveguides is typically one or two orders of magnitude larger than the underlying CMOS electronics. An antenna can be used to concentrate the electromagnetic signals from the waveguide mode into a deep sub wavelength metal/insulator/metal waveguide and inject it into a nanoscale photo detector. dielectric waveguides (low-loss information transport). By using metallic nanostructures as a bridge between photonics and electronics. and nanoscale electronic components (high-speed information processing). Fig 3. The small size of the detector ensures a small capacitance. WAVELENGTH-SELECTIVE DIRECTIONAL COUPLING WITH DIELECTRIC-LOADED PLASMONIC WAVEGUIDES 6 .

inspected with scanning electron microscopy (SEM). All waveguide structures were fabricated using deep UV lithography (wavelength of _250 nm) with a Süss Microtech MJB4 mask aligner in the vacuum contact mode and a _550 nm thick layer of polymethyl. but their potential for wavelength selection. Recently developed dielectric loaded SPP waveguides (DLSPPWs). the width of the produced waveguides. a crucial functionality for any photonic circuit. utilizing high effective indexes of SPP modes guided by dielectric ridges on smooth metal films . Here we report on the fabrication. thereby imposing additional requirements to the accuracy of fabrication. The performance of the fabricated components was characterized using a scanning near-field optical microscope (SNOM). can be laterally confined below the diffraction limit using subwavelength metal structures . which was supported by a thin glass substrate. In our case. represent an attractive alternative to other plasmonic technologies by virtue of being naturally compatible with different dielectrics and large-scale industrial fabrication using UV lithography . Note that the wavelength dispersion of directional coupling using DLSPPWs has not been considered in previous publications . characterization. light waves coupled to free-electron oscillations in metal .methacrylate (PMMA) resist spin coated on a 60 nm thin gold film. Taking into account a rather good performance of recently investigated DLSPPW-based S bends . and an arrangement for 7 . Plasmonic components open an appealing perspective of combining the high operational bandwidth of photonic components with the subwavelength dimensions of SPP waveguides . and modeling of DLSPPW-based wavelength-selective DCs operating at telecommunication wavelengths.Surface-plasmon polaritons (SPPs). Typically. was close to 500 nm ensuring the singlemode (and close to optimum) DLSPPW operation . one should also bear in mind a (diffraction) limited resolution of UV lithography employed for the DLSPPW fabrication.we suggest making use of wavelength-dependent behavior of directional couplers (DCs) [for the selection and spatial separation of radiation channels at different wavelengths. Preliminary investigations indicated that DLSPPW-based components feature relatively low bend and propagation losses . operating in collection mode with an uncoated fiber tip used as a probe. Wavelength-selective plasmonic components generally feature more complicated geometry . has so far not been explored.

e. and 1000 nm. a value that is consistent with the loss incurred by 25-_m-long propagation __40%_ and two S bends (_35% per bend) . slightly increasing with the wavelength . 4(c) and 4(d). 4(c) and 4(e)and varies noticeably with the wavelength. an important circumstance that is achieved because the DC design does not contain critical elements requiring high resolution lithography.23. At the same time. with the further improvement in that the DLSPPW mode was excited directly inside the taper by matching the excitation angle (under total internal reflection). the total DC transmission evaluated using the input and output waveguide cross sections (separated by L=45 _m) is practically wavelength independent maintaining the level of _0. comprising 3 _m offset. Several DLSPPW-based 45-_m-long DCs.. influencing the power level in the output waveguides Figs. between 25-_m-long parallel waveguides were fabricated and characterized with the SNOM at different wavelengths It was observed that the coupling length lc (i. S=800.One can thereby conclude that the performance of the fabricated DCs is not degraded owing to fabrication errors. 8 .SPP excitation (at _=1500–1620 nm) in the Kretschmann–Raether configuration. We found that all structures exhibited the DLSPPW propagation length of _50 _m. 900. as described in detail elsewhere . the interaction length needed to completely transfer the power from one waveguide to another) depends strongly on the separation Figs. having different center-to-center separations. 10-_m-long (input and output) Sbends. resulting in SNOM images of high quality . All waveguide structures were connected to funnel structures facilitating efficient excitation of the DLSPPW mode .

Fig. To get further insight into the DLSPPW-based DC operation.. (Color online) (a) Scanning electron microscope image of the fabricated DC showing the funnel structure facilitating the DLSPPW excitation.e. straight Ts and cross Tc transmissions. and (e) 1500 nm] SNOM images of 45 _m long DCs with the separations (b)–(d) S=1000 nm along with an inset showing SEM image of the coupling region and (e) S=900 nm. (b) Topographical and (c)–(e) near-field optical [_=_c_ 1500. 2). the second one reflects the power loss incurred by the propagation through the 9 . This dispersion was used to calculate the normalized output signals. 4. (d) 1620. we conducted full threedimensional finite-element method (3D-FEM) simulations of the DC operation [6] that allowed us to retrieve the coupling length dispersion. with only one waveguide being excited at the input. i. It is seen that the simulation results agree well with the experimental values obtained directly from the SNOM images (Fig. where the first factor reflects the S-bend transmission.

5. (Color online) DC coupling length evaluated for different wavelengths and separations directly from SNOM images similar to those shown in Figs. Using the obtained results one can design a DC structure that would ensure spatial separation of radiation corresponding to different bands used in optical telecommunications.5 _m for the DC with S=1000 nm would enable spatial separation of the wavelengths of 1400 and 1620 nm (belonging to E and L bands) as seen from the calculations with Lp=30. 6). we found that the interaction length Li_34 _m results in good agreement (Fig. we have fabricated and characterized wavelengthselective DCs operating at telecommunications wavelengths. 5). 6)between the calculated output signals and the values obtained from SNOM images. Fig. similar to those shown in Fig. an increase of the length of parallel section by _5.section of parallel waveguides (of length Lp).65 (evaluated using the available experimental data ). 4.5 _m and Li_39. For example. Using the already known parameters.Using industrially compatible largescale UV-lithography-based fabrication and exploiting the principles of DLSPPW-based plasmonic technology. 1(c)–1(e) and calculated with 3D-FEM simulations. Li_Lp due to the additional mode coupling in the S bends . Tbend_0.5 _m (Fig. Lp =25 _m and lc___ for S=1000 nm (Fig. typically. and Li denotes the effective interaction length. We have demonstrated a DLSPPW-based 45-_m-long DC 10 . we have considered the usage of DC wavelength dispersion for the selection and spatial separation of radiation channels at different wavelengths.

6. Wide variety of Bio-technology applications. 4(c)–4(e) and the DC coupling length dispersion shown inFig.. which include: .comprising 3 _m offset S bends and 25-_m-long parallel waveguides that changes from the through state at 1500 nm to 3 dB splitting at 1600 nm and have shown that a 50. with the 3D-FEM simulations) with respect to the wavelength selection and insertion loss. magneto-optical.5-_m-long DC should enable complete separation of the radiation channels at 1400 and 1620 nm (belonging to E and L bands). electro-optical. Fig. and nonlinear optical effects as well as being integrated with electrical circuits.g. . Taking into account the fact that this technology is naturally compatible with different dielectrics. The performance of the considered structures could be further improved by fine tuning the DC parameters so as to achieve overall optimization (e. Medical Diagnostics. (Color output normalized to the input only one determined online) DC signals with respect when exciting waveguide. experimentally from SNOM images similar to those shown in Figs. Environmental Sensing. one can envisage the development of ultracompact plasmonic components utilizing thermo-optical. 11 . 6. acousto-optical. APPLICATIONS 1. 6.

in comparison to many other similar applications. The field has witnessed an explosive growth over the last few years and our knowledge base in plasmonics is rapidly expanding. CONCLUSION Plasmonics has the potential to play a unique and important role in enhancing the processing speed of future integrated circuits. Less time consuming and cost effective. 4. Industrial Process Control. 7. Ailmentary Emergency and Hygiene. Plasmon’s can support much higher frequencies into the 100 THz range and it support extremely small wavelengths.. 3. the role of plasmonic devices on a chip is also becoming more well-defined and 12 . As a result. 2.

is captured in Fig. For these reasons. devices were relatively slow and bulky. Unfortunately. A. interconnect delay time issues provide significant challenges toward the realization of purely electronic circuits operating above ~10 GHz. Unfortunately. plasmonics offers precisely what electronics and photonics do not have: the size of electronics and the speed of photonics. Plasmonics may well serve as the missing link between the two device technologies that currently have a difficult time communicating. C. Nature 424. Bozhevolnyi. L. photonic devices possess an enormous data-carrying capacity (bandwidth). Finally. preventing the same scaling as in electronics.Today 61. This graph shows the operating speeds and critical dimensions of different chip-scale device technologies. Genet. Ebbesen. 44 (May 2008). plasmonics may be able to unleash the full potential of nanoscale functionality and become the next wave of chip-scale technology. and S. W. Ebbesen. W. The semiconductor industry has performed an incredible job in scaling electronic devices to nanoscale dimensions. 7. 824 (2003). dielectric photonic components are limited in their size by the laws of diffraction. Dereux. T. REFERENCES 1. 13 . I. Barnes. In the past. Phys. highlighting the strengths of the different technologies. 7 Operating speeds and critical dimensions of various chip-scale device technologies. Plasmonic devices. Fig. W. therefore. In stark contrast. 2. and T. might interface naturally with similar speed photonic devices and similar size electronic components. By increasing the synergy between these technologies.

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