Surface plasmons, infrared, semiconductor, silicon, conducting polymers


Conductors with IR (infrared) plasma frequencies are potentially useful hosts of surface plasmon polaritons (SPPs) with subwavelength mode confinement for sensing applications. The underlying aim of this work is to identify such conductors that also have sharp SPP excitation resonances for biosensor applications at infrared (3-11 m) wavelengths, where biological analytes are strongly differentiated by their IR absorption spectra. In this work, various materials were investigated such as a heavily doped semiconductor, a semimetal, a conducting polymer and its composite. Heavily doped silicon was investigated by tuning its plasma frequency to the infrared region by heavily doping. The measured complex permittivity spectra for p-type silicon with a carrier concentration of 6  1019 and 6  1020 cm -3 show that these materials support SPPs beyond 11 and 6 m wavelengths, respectively. SPP generation was observed in angular reflection spectra of doped-silicon gratings. Photon-to-plasmon coupling resonances, a necessary condition for sensing, were demonstrated near 10 m wavelength for the heaviest doped, and the observed resonances were confirmed theoretically using analytic calculations. The permittivity spectra were also used to calculate SPP mode heights above the silicon surface and SPP propagation lengths. Reasonable merit criteria applied to these quantities suggest that only the heaviest doped material has sensor potential, and then mainly within the wavelength range of 6 to 10 m. iv The semimetal bismuth (Bi) has an infrared plasmon frequency less than the infrared plasma frequency of noble metals such as gold and silver, which is one order of magnitude lower than their plasma frequencies. The excitation of IR surface plasmons on Bi lamellar gratings in the wavelength range of 3.4 µm to 10.6 µm was observed. Distinct SPP resonances were observed although the usual condition for bound SPP is not satisfied in this wavelength range because the real part of the permittivity is positive. The excitation of these resonances agrees theoretically with the electromagnetic surface waves called surface polaritons (SPs). The measured permittivity spectra were used to calculate the SP mode heights above the bismuth surface and SP propagation length, which satisfied our criteria for sensors. A conducting polymer and its composite with graphite were also investigated since their plasma frequency may lie in the infrared region. Polyaniline was chemically synthesized and doped with various acids to prepare its salt form. A composite material of polyaniline with colloidal and nano-graphite was also prepared. Optical constants were measured in the long wave infrared region (LWIR) and were used to calculate SPP propagation length and penetration depth. SPP resonance spectra were calculated and suggested that polyaniline and its composite can be used as a host with sufficient mode confinement for IR sensor application.


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Graduation Date





Peale, Robert


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Sciences



Degree Program









Release Date

December 2012

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)


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

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