A customizable class of colloidal-quantum-dot spasers and plasmonic amplifiers

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science Advances  22 Sep 2017:
Vol. 3, no. 9, e1700688
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1700688


Colloidal quantum dots are robust, efficient, and tunable emitters now used in lighting, displays, and lasers. Consequently, when the spaser—a laser-like source of high-intensity, narrow-band surface plasmons—was first proposed, quantum dots were specified as the ideal plasmonic gain medium for overcoming the significant intrinsic losses of plasmons. Many subsequent spasers, however, have required a single material to simultaneously provide gain and define the plasmonic cavity, a design unable to accommodate quantum dots and other colloidal nanomaterials. In addition, these and other designs have been ill suited for integration with other elements in a larger plasmonic circuit, limiting their use. We develop a more open architecture that decouples the gain medium from the cavity, leading to a versatile class of quantum dot–based spasers that allow controlled generation, extraction, and manipulation of plasmons. We first create aberration-corrected plasmonic cavities with high quality factors at desired locations on an ultrasmooth silver substrate. We then incorporate quantum dots into these cavities via electrohydrodynamic printing or drop-casting. Photoexcitation under ambient conditions generates monochromatic plasmons (0.65-nm linewidth at 630 nm, Q ~ 1000) above threshold. This signal is extracted, directed through an integrated amplifier, and focused at a nearby nanoscale tip, generating intense electromagnetic fields. More generally, our device platform can be straightforwardly deployed at different wavelengths, size scales, and geometries on large-area plasmonic chips for fundamental studies and applications.

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.

View Full Text

Stay Connected to Science Advances