Plasmonic Effects Measured at Atomic ScalesCategory: Science & Technology
Posted: September 11, 2012 10:04AM
While there is great potential with optical technology for computation, there is also the major issue that any given photon has a minimum size based on its wavelength. To achieve the same scale as modern electronics, such high energy photons would have to be used as to make such an optical device impractical. However, decades ago researchers discovered that photons can couple with electrons in such a way that the minimum size of the photon is irrelevant. This coupling creates a quasiparticle called a plasmon and now researchers at Duke University have studied them at the scale of single atoms.
The measurements the researchers made will allow the maximum field enhancement to be determined for any plasmonic device, which then allows for the efficiencies of a plasmonic system to be predicted. To take these measurements the researchers had to put an ultra-thin monolayer of organic molecules on top of a thin gold film. The monolayer also had precisely controllable carbon chains in it and gold nanoparticles on top. These carbon chains allowed the researchers to manipulate the distance between the nanoparticles and the film with the precision of an atomic diameter.
Potentially plasmonics may be used as sensors and components within a computer, thanks to their optoelectric properties that persist at extremely small scales. This research could lead to the theoretical developments needed to make that a reality, including the ability to tune materials to have specific properties.