Research ArticleAPPLIED OPTICS

Active quantum plasmonics

Science Advances  18 Dec 2015:
Vol. 1, no. 11, e1501095
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1501095

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The ability of localized surface plasmons to squeeze light and engineer nanoscale electromagnetic fields through electron-photon coupling at dimensions below the wavelength has turned plasmonics into a driving tool in a variety of technological applications, targeting novel and more efficient optoelectronic processes. In this context, the development of active control of plasmon excitations is a major fundamental and practical challenge. We propose a mechanism for fast and active control of the optical response of metallic nanostructures based on exploiting quantum effects in subnanometric plasmonic gaps. By applying an external dc bias across a narrow gap, a substantial change in the tunneling conductance across the junction can be induced at optical frequencies, which modifies the plasmonic resonances of the system in a reversible manner. We demonstrate the feasibility of the concept using time-dependent density functional theory calculations. Thus, along with two-dimensional structures, metal nanoparticle plasmonics can benefit from the reversibility, fast response time, and versatility of an active control strategy based on applied bias. The proposed electrical manipulation of light using quantum plasmonics establishes a new platform for many practical applications in optoelectronics.

  • Physics
  • Plasmonics
  • Quantum plasmonics
  • applied optoelectronics

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, so long as the resultant use is not for commercial advantage and provided the original work is properly cited.

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