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Photonics Dictionary

plasmonics

Plasmonics is a field of science and technology that focuses on the interaction between electromagnetic radiation and free electrons in a metal or semiconductor at the nanoscale. Specifically, plasmonics deals with the collective oscillations of these free electrons, known as surface plasmons, which can confine and manipulate light on the nanometer scale.

Surface plasmons are formed when incident photons couple with the conduction electrons at the interface between a metal or semiconductor and a dielectric material, such as air or glass. This interaction results in the creation of electromagnetic waves that propagate along the interface, leading to a strong enhancement of the local electromagnetic field near the surface.

Key aspects and applications of plasmonics include:

Enhanced light-matter interaction: Plasmonic structures can concentrate and confine electromagnetic fields into subwavelength volumes, leading to enhanced light-matter interactions. This property is exploited in various applications such as surface-enhanced spectroscopy, enhanced light absorption in photovoltaics, and increased sensitivity in biosensors.

Subwavelength optical devices: Plasmonic structures enable the manipulation of light on length scales much smaller than the wavelength of light itself. This capability has led to the development of subwavelength optical components, including plasmonic waveguides, lenses, and antennas, which find applications in nanophotonics, integrated optics, and optical data processing.

Nanophotonic circuitry: Plasmonics offers opportunities for the miniaturization and integration of optical components and circuits at the nanoscale. Plasmonic waveguides and resonators can be used to guide and manipulate light in compact photonic circuits, enabling the development of high-performance optical devices for communication, sensing, and computing applications.

Surface-enhanced spectroscopy: Plasmonic nanostructures can significantly enhance the sensitivity of spectroscopic techniques such as surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) and surface plasmon resonance (SPR) spectroscopy. These techniques are widely used for chemical and biological sensing, molecular detection, and characterization of materials at the nanoscale.

Optical metamaterials: Plasmonic structures are often integrated into metamaterials, which are engineered materials with unique optical properties not found in naturally occurring materials. By designing the geometry and composition of plasmonic metamaterials, researchers can achieve exotic optical phenomena such as negative refraction, cloaking, and perfect absorption.

Overall, plasmonics plays a crucial role in advancing nanophotonics, enabling new technologies with applications ranging from sensing and imaging to telecommunications and energy harvesting.

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