Research ArticleAPPLIED OPTICS

Surface plasmon polariton laser based on a metallic trench Fabry-Perot resonator

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Science Advances  06 Oct 2017:
Vol. 3, no. 10, e1700909
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1700909


Recent years have witnessed a growing interest in the development of small-footprint lasers for potential applications in small-volume sensing and on-chip optical communications. Surface plasmons—electromagnetic modes evanescently confined to metal-dielectric interfaces—offer an effective route to achieving lasing at nanometer-scale dimensions when resonantly amplified in contact with a gain medium. We achieve narrow-linewidth visible-frequency lasing at room temperature by leveraging surface plasmons propagating in an open Fabry-Perot cavity formed by a flat metal surface coated with a subwavelength-thick layer of optically pumped gain medium and orthogonally bound by a pair of flat metal sidewalls. We show how the lasing threshold and linewidth can be lowered by incorporating a low-profile tapered grating on the cavity floor to couple the excitation beam into a pump surface plasmon polariton providing a strong modal overlap with the gain medium. Low-perturbation transmission-configuration sampling of the lasing plasmon mode is achieved via an evanescently coupled recessed nanoslit, opening the way to high–figure of merit refractive index sensing of analytes interacting with the open metallic trench.

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