Plasmonics, plasmons, nanostructures, nanoparticles, nanostructured materials, optics, photonics, nanophotonics, photonics, surface plasmons, surface plasmon polaritons, waveguides, metamaterials, negative index materials, fano resonance, dark modes, electrodynamics, diffraction limit


Light interaction with matter has long been an area of interest throughout history, spanning many fields of study. In recent decades, the investigation of light-matter interactions with nanostructures has become an intense area of research in the field of photonics. Metallic nanostructures, in particular, are of interest due to the interesting properties that arise when interacting with light. The properties are a result of the excitation of surface plasmons which are the collective oscillation of the conduction electrons in the metal. Since the conduction electrons can be thought of as harmonic oscillators, they are quantized in a similar fashion. Just as a photon is a quantum of oscillations of an electromagnetic field, the plasmon is a quantum of electron oscillations of a metal. There are three types of plasmons: 1. Bulk plasmons, also called volume plasmons, are longitudinal density fluctuations which propagate through a bulk metal with an eigenfrequency of �� called the plasma frequency. 2. Localized surface plasmons are non-propagating excitations of the conduction electrons of a metallic nanoparticle coupled to an electromagnetic field. 3. Surface plasmon polaritons are evanescent, dispersive propagating electromagnetic waves formed by a coupled state between a photon and the excitation of the surface plasmons. They propagate along the surface of a metal-dielectric interface with a broad spectrum of eigenfrequencies from � = 0 to � = ��⁄√2. iv Plasmonics is a subfield of photonics which focuses on the study of surface plasmons and the optical properties that result from light interacting with metal films and nanostructures on the deep subwavelength scale. In this thesis, plasmonic nanostructures are investigated for optical waveguides and other nanophotonic applications through computational simulations primarily base on electrodynamic theory. The theory was formulated by several key figures and established by James Clerk Maxwell after he published a set of relations which describe all classical electromagnetic phenomena, known as Maxwell’s equations. Using methods based on Maxwell’s equations, the optical properties of metallic nanostructures utilizing surface plasmons is explored. In Chapter 3, light propagation of bright and dark modes of a partially and fully illuminated silver nanorod is investigated for waveguide applications. Then, the origin of the Fano resonance line shape in the scattering spectra of a silver nanorod is investigated. Next, in Chapter 4, the reflection and transmission of a multilayer silver film is simulated to observe the effects of varying the dielectric media between the layers on light propagation. Building on the multilayer film work, metal-insulator-metal waveguides are explored by perforating holes in the bottom layer of a two layer a silver film to investigate the limits of subwavelength light trapping, confinement, and propagation. Lastly, in Chapter 5, the effect of surface plasmons on the propagation direction of electromagnetic wave around a spherical silver nanoparticle which shows an effective negative index of refraction is examined. In addition, light manipulation using a film of silver prisms with an effective negative index of refraction is also investigated. The silver prisms demonstrate v polarization selective propagation for waveguide and optical filter applications. These studies provide insight into plasmonic mechanisms utilized to overcome the diffraction limit of light. Through better understanding of how to manipulating light with plasmonic nanostructures, further advancements in nanophotonic technologies for applications such as extremely subwavelength waveguides, sensitive optical detection, optical filters, polarizers, beam splitters, optical data storage devices, high speed data transmission, and integrated subwavelength photonic circuits can be achieved.


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Graduation Date





Zou, Shengli


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Sciences



Degree Program









Release Date

December 2013

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)


Dissertations, Academic -- Sciences, Sciences -- Dissertations, Academic

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