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photonics and smallness of electronics

would be the best bridge of all.
1. Abstract: Researchers are pioneering such a
technology called ‘plasmonics’.
With the increasing quest for Plasmonics, also called ‘light on a wire’,
transporting large amounts of data at a fast would allow transmission of data at optical
speed along with miniaturization, both frequencies along the surface of a tiny
electronics and photonics are facing metallic wire, despite the fact that the data
limitations. Photonic components such as travels in the form of electron density
fiber-optic cables can carry a lot of data distributions rather than photons.
but are bulky compared to electronic
circuits. Electronic components such as
wires and transistors can be incredibly 2. Introduction:
small but carry less data.
A problem holding back the progress What is plasmonics?
of computing is that with mismatched Plasmonics refers to the
capacities and sizes, the two technologies investigation, development and
are hard to combine in a circuit. Photonic applications of enhanced electromagnetic
components such as fiber optic cables can properties of metallic nanostructures. The
carry a lot of data but are bulky compared term plasmonics is derived from
to electronic circuits. Electronic plasmons, which are the quanta associated
components such as wires and transistors with longitudinal waves propagating in
carry less data but can be incredibly small. matter through the collective motion of
Researchers can cobble them together, but large numbers of electrons. These
a single technology that has the capacity of plasmons travel at the speed of light and
are created when light hits a metal at a
particular angle, causing waves to exponentially decay into both media.
propagate through electrons near the These unique interface waves result from
surface. Plasmonics exploits nanoscale the special dispersion characteristics of
structural transformations which are metals. Surface plasmons are very
supported by rigorous numerical analysis. sensitive to the properties of the materials
Plasma is a medium with equal on which they propagate. What
concentration of positive and negative distinguishes surface plasmons from
charges, of which at least one charge type ‘regular’ photons is that they have a much
is mobile. In a solid, the negative charges smaller wavelength at the same frequency.
of the conduction electrons (i.e., electron An interface between a dielectric and a
gas) are balanced by an equal metal can support a surface plasmon. The
concentration of positive charge of the ion short-wavelength surface plasmons enable
cores. A plasma oscillation in a metal is a the fabrication of nanoscale optical
collective longitudinal excitation of the integrated circuits, in which light can be
conduction electron gas against a guided, split, filtered, and even amplified
background of fixed positive ions with a using plasmonic integrated circuits that are
plasma frequency. smaller than the optical wavelength. At a
Those plasmons that are confined to given frequency, the surface plasmon
surfaces and which interact strongly with wavelength is strongly dependent on the
light are known as surface plasmons. metal thickness. Surface Plasmons cannot
Surface plasmons are dense waves of couple directly to free-space
electrons—bunches of electrons passing a electromagnetic radiation of the same
point regularly—along the surface of a energy because they travel too slowly,
metal. Plasmons have the same their associated wavevector being too
frequencies and electromagnetic fields as large to satisfy conservation of energy and
light, but their sub-wave-length size means momentum.
that they take up less space. Plasmonics,
then, is the technology of transmitting
these light-like waves along nanoscale
wires. With every wave, we can, in
principle, carry information.

Surface plasmons: 3. How do they work?

The existence of ‘surface
plasmons’ in metallic structures opens up In plasmonics, light is first
a multitude of new possibilities for converted into plasmons, which then
photonic devices as they allow the propagate in a metallic surface, but with a
propagation and concentration of wavelength smaller than the original light;
light in subwavelength spaces. A the plasmons could then be processed with
surface plasmon is a coherent electron their own two-dimensional optical
oscillation that propagates along the components and later plasmons could be
interface together with an electromagnetic turned back into light or into electric
wave. I.e., the interface between a signals. Light can be localized and
conductor and an insulator is where manipulated in appropriately designed
surface plasmons propagate; bound to the metallic and metallodielectric nanoparticle
surface between the two, they array structures. In particular, interesting
phenomena occur near the plasmon particles. By varying nanoparticle shape or
frequency where optical extinction is geometry, the surface plasmon resonance
resonantly enhanced and at the plasma frequency can be tuned over a broad
frequency where the real part of the spectral range.
dielectric constant changes sign. Due to For example, a HeNe laser, whose
their high reflection and absorption free-space emission wavelength is 633 nm,
coefficients, metal structures have been can excite a surface plasmon at a Si/Ag
generally overlooked as elements to guide, interface with a wavelength of only 70 nm.
focus and switch light at visible and When the laser frequency is tuned very
infrared wavelengths. However at the close to the surface plasmon resonance,
nanoscale the intriguing guiding and surface plasmon wavelengths in the
refractive properties of metal structures nanometer range can be achieved.
can be realized since the metal
components become semitransparent due 4. Benefits are many…
to their small size.
Local arrays of electronic The big advantage of plasmons is
transistors would carry out the switching that you can make the devices the same
necessary for computation, but when a lot size as electrical components but give
of data needs an express lane to travel them the speed of photons.
from one section of a chip to another; Plasmon waves are of particular
electronic bits could be converted to interest because these are at optical
plasmon waves, sent along a plasmonic frequencies. The higher the frequency of
wire and converted back to electronic bits the wave, the more the information we can
at their destination. When a light source is transport. Optical frequencies are about
placed close to a metal, it can excite a 100,000 times greater than the frequency
surface plasmon through a near-field of today’s electronic microprocessors.
interaction. When light of specific The key is using a material with a
frequency strikes a plasmon that oscillates low refractive index, ideally negative, such
at a compatible frequency, the energy from that the incoming electromagnetic energy
light is harvested by the plasmon, is reflected parallel to the surface of the
converted into electrical energy that material and transmitted along its length as
propogates through the nanostructure and far as possible. There exists no natural
eventually converted back into light. material with negative refractive index,
And with a light-emitting diode so nanostructured material must be
embedded in a plasmonic structure, used to fabricate effective plasmonic
surface plasmons can be electrically devices. For this reason, plasmonics is
excited. Such surface plasmons may serve frequentl associated with
as an alternative to overcome the nanotechnology.
information bottlenecks presented by Plasmonics describes how ultrasmall
electrical interconnects in integrated metallic structures of various shapes
circuits. Coupling to surface plasmons can capture and manipulate light and provides
also enhance the extraction efficiency of a practical design tool for nanoscale
light from LEDs. Ordered arrays of optical components. The fact that light
nanoparticles can possess even further interacts with nanostructures overcomes
enhanced field intensities as a result of the belief held for more than a century that
plasmon coupling between adjacent
light waves couldn’t interact with anything propagation, a 100-fold concentration
smaller than their own wavelengths. compared to dielectric waveguides. There
Research has shown that nanoscale is a vast array of plasmonic concepts still
objects can amplify the focus light in ways waiting to be explored, with applications
scientists never imagined. The ‘how’ of spanning (bio-) sensing, optical storage,
this involves plasmons—ripples of waves solid-state lighting, interconnects, and
in the ocean of electrons flowing across waveguides.
the surface of metallic nanostructures. The
type of plasmon that exists on a surface is
directly related to its geometric structure. 5. R&D so far...
“The plasmonic waveguides allow
light to be very tightly The field of plasmonics, which has
Localized and this is a feasible way of existed only for a few years, has already
developing efficient optical ‘wires’ and attracted researchers from the industry and
chips with the required level of government. Studying the way light
integration similar to modern interacts with metallic nanostructures will
electronic chips.” The scaling of optical make it easier to design new optical
devices and components to their ultimate materials and devices from the bottom up,
size limits will require that using metal particles of specifically
electromagnetic energy be guided on a tailored shapes. One primary goal of this
scale below the diffraction limit and that field is to develop new optical components
information be guided around sharp and systems that are of the same size as
corners with nanometer-scale radii of today’s smallest integrated circuits and
curvature. Plasmon waveguides are that could ultimately be integrated with
periodic chain arrays of metal electronics on the same chip.
nanoparticles which can localize light in The research shows that the
guided modes whose size is a few equations that determine the frequencies of
percent of the optical wavelength. Such plasmons and complex nanoparticles are
waveguides can enable efficient power almost identical to the quantum
transfer around sharp corners and may mechanical equations that determine the
form the basis for nanoscale all-optical energies of protons in atoms and
switches. molecules called ‘plasmon
Metallic nanoparticles have hybridization’.
distinctly different optical characteristics Just as quantum mechanics allows
than surface plasmons at planar interfaces. scientists to predict the properties of
Planar waveguides and photonic crystal complex molecules, research shows that
structures are being intensively the properties of plasmons in complex
investigated as primary solutions for metallic nanostructures can be predicted in
integrated photonic devices. Nanoparticles a simple manner. The findings are
show strong optical resonances, again applicable not only to nanoshells but also
because of their large free-electron to nanoscale waveguides and other
density. Arrays of metal nanoparticles can nanophotonic structures.
also be used as miniature optical The ultimate goal of R&D is to
waveguides. These nanoparticle array demonstrate plasmonics in action on a
waveguides provide confinement of light standard silicon chip and make working
within ~50 nm along the direction of plasmonic components. The next step will
be to integrate the components with an For this reason, plasmonics is frequently
electronic chip to demonstrate plasmonic associated with nanotechnology.
data generation, transport and detection. The distance that a plasmon can
Plasmons are generated when, under travel before dying out is a function of
the right conditions, light strikes a metal. several aspects of the metal. But for
The electric field of the light jiggles the optimal transfer through a wire of any
electrons in the metal to the light's metal, the surface of contact with
frequency, setting off density waves of surrounding materials must be as smooth
electrons. Plasmon waves behave on as possible and the metal should not have
metals much like light waves behave in impurities.
glass, meaning that plasmonic engineers For most wavelengths of visible
can employ all the ingenious tricks that light, aluminium allows plasmons to travel
photonic engineers use to cram more data farther than other metals such as gold,
down a cable—such as multiplexing, or silver and copper. It is somewhat ironic
sending multiple waves. Meanwhile, that aluminium is the best metal to use
because plasmonic components can be because the semiconductor industry
crafted from the same materials that the recently dumped aluminium in favour of
chipmakers use today, engineers are copper—the better electrical conductor—
hopeful that they can make all the devices as its wiring of choice. Of course, it may
needed to route light around a processor or turn out that some kind of alloy will have
other kind of chip. These would include even better plasmonic properties than
plasmon sources, detectors and wires as either aluminium or copper.
well as splitters and even transistors. Another classic semiconductor issue
that the researchers will have to address is
‘heat’. Chipmakers are constantly striving
6. Limitations do exist!! to ensure that their electronic chips don’t
run too hot. Plasmonics also will
The potential of plasmonics right generate some heat, but the exact amount
now is mainly limited by the fact that is not yet known. Even if plasmonics runs
plasmons can typically travel only as hot as electronics, it will still have the
several millimeters before they peter advantage of a higher data capacity in the
out. Chips, meanwhile, are typically about same space.
a centimeter across, so plasmons can’t yet
go the whole distance. For sending data
even longer distances, the technology 7. Promising applications:
would need even more improvement. The
key is using a material with a low The study of plasmonics is one of
refractive index, ideally negative, such that the fastest growing fields in optics because
the incoming electromagnetic energy is it could prove useful for a wide range of
reflected parallel to the surface of the applications in biological sensing,
material and transmitted along its length as microelectronics, chemical detection,
far as possible. There exists no natural medical technology and others. They have
material with a negative refractive index, been proposed as a means of high
so nanostructured materials must be used resolution lithography and microscopy due
to fabricate effective plasmonic devices. to their extremely small wavelengths. Both
of these applications have seen successful
demonstrations in the lab environment. plasmon-carrying metallic material, it
Finally, surface plasmons have the unique leaves its characteristic signature in the
capacity to confine light to very small angle at which it reflects the energy.
dimensions which could enable many new Currently the biggest application for
applications. The sensitivity of surface plasmons is in gold-coated glass
plasmons to the properties of materials has biosensors, which detect when particular
lead to their use to measure the thickness proteins or DNA are present - the bio-
of mono layers on colloid films, such as matter changes the angle at which light
screening and quantifying protein binding hitting the surface produces the most
events. intense plasmons.
“Before all-plasmonic chips are Nanolithography is a term used to
developed, plasmonics will probably be describe a number of techniques for
integrated with conventional silicon creating incredibly small structures. The
devices. Plasmonic wires will act as high sizes involved are on the order of tens of
bandwidth freeways across the busiest nanometers (nm). One common method of
areas of the chip”. nanolithography, used particularly in the
Plasmons have a variety of potential creation of microchips, is known as
uses. Plasmon wires can be much thinner photolithography. This technique is a
than conventional wires, and could support parallel method of nanolithography in
much higher frequencies, so plasmons which the entire surface is drawn on in a
have been considered as a means of single moment. Photolithography is
transmitting information on computer limited in the size it can reduce to,
chips. Applications of surface plasmons in however, because if the wavelength of
solid-state lighting and lasing are just light used is made too small the lens
appearing, but it may be that traffic lights simply absorbs the light in its entirety.
are composed of surface plasmon LEDs in In the field of chemical sensing,
a few years time. Surface-plasmon-based plasmonics offers the possibility of new
sensors find uses in gas sensing, technologies that will allow doctors, anti-
biological environments such as terror squads and environmental experts to
immuno-sensing and electrochemical detect chemicals in quantities as small as a
studies. The ability to achieve locally single molecule.
intense fields has many possible
applications, including increasing the
efficiency of LEDs, (bio-) sensing, and 8. What’s the future hold?
Plasmon printing is a new The production of light in a
approach to lithographic printing that takes standard CMOS process is a
advantage of the resonantly enhanced ‘fundamentally disruptive force’ in the
optical intensity in optical nearfield of semiconductor industry. Light emission
metallic nanoparticles, and that could technologies will transform the current
enable printing of deep subwavelength semiconductor integrated circuit market
features using conventional photoresist for decades to come. By bridging the
and simple visible/ultraviolet light sources. growing gap between the massive
Plasmonics has also been used in computing power of leading-edge
biosensors. When a particular protein or microprocessors and the ability to quickly
DNA molecule rests on the surface of a move data on and off chip, Applied
Plasmonics’ technology will support both -Built multiple frequency devices on one
current and future generations of chip at the same time, and in the same
integrated circuits. layer.
With speeds more then a -Showed that devices can be built that
thousand times faster than conventional emit selective frequencies of light.
on-chip wiring, Applied Plasmonics’ -Tested emitter switching speeds at
optical-based technology will support 130MHzMEM, limited only by readily
data rates substantially higher than available, commercial, detectors.
those achieved by current copper -Developed a comprehensive
interconnect technologies used in understanding of
today’s integrated circuits. Applied theory/design/test/fabrication for its
Plasmonics’ technology enables these light emitting devices.
massive data rates through light emission -Developed frequency-related design
devices that are directly interfaced to and rules for development, design, and
between integrated circuits, printed circuit manufacturing of its light emitting
boards, and local area networks. This technologies.
massive increase in available bandwidth
will create new and unprecedented
applications by bringing optics-based data
communications to the chip and “desk-
top”. In addition, there is also the potential
to use light for future intra-chip transport
of signals and clocks within a single 10. Conclusions:
CMOS silicon integrated circuit. This can
possibly “tame” one of the most Since 2001, there has been an
demanding aspects of modern chip design. explosive growth of scientific interest in
the role of plasmons in optical phenomena
including guided-wave propagation and
imaging at the subwavelength scale,
9. Building Plasmon Enabled
nonlinear spectroscopy and ‘negative
Devices: index’ metamaterials. The unusual
dispersion properties of metals near the
In addition to the fundamental plasmon resonance enables excitation of
plasmon breakthroughs, Applied surface modes and resonant modes in
Plasmonics has accomplished significant nanostructures that access a very large
technical milestones relating to its light range of wavevectors over a narrow
emittingtechnologies. frequency range, and accordingly,
resonant plasmon excitation allows for
Emitter devices:- light localization in ultra-small volumes.
This feature constitutes a critical design
-Designed, fabricated, and tested light- principle for light localization below the
emitting plasmon devices. free space wavelength and opens the path
-Shown that different and multiple modes to truly nanoscale plasmonic optical
can be achieved in one device at the devices. This principle, combined with
same time. quantitative electromagnetic simulation
methods and a broad portfolio of
established and emerging nanofabrication
methods creates the conditions for ever-increasing computing power of
dramatic scientific progress and a new leading-edge microprocessors and the
class of subwavelength optical inability to quickly move data on and
components. off chip.
The production of light
emission technologies in a standard
CMOS process offers the promise to 11. References:
transform the semiconductor integrated
circuit market for decades to come. 1. EFY magazines..
Applied Plasmonics technology will 2.
support both current and future
generations of microprocessors and will Etc….
reduce the growing gap between the

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