Photonic-plasmonic linear and non-linear coupling

Glass is transparent. Metals are shiny. A piece of wood is opaque. Each material has a different relationship with light. Some materials let light go through; others reflect back; others absorb it. This is true also at the nanoscale. In addition, optical properties at the nanoscale are even more interesting. Imagine if your gold ring would change its color if you break it in half, or if you change its size anyhow. In fact, this is what happens for nano-sized metals and semiconductors. In particular, metals can act as an antenna for light. Gold nanopads have the ability to redirect light in specific directions and locations. Semiconductors change their response to light depending on its size and shape. What about coupling the two systems?

Within this research field, I investigated the optical properties of new semiconductor architectures (V-shaped membranes). Fabrication of these structures is very challenging and we did it in collaboration with Prof. Fontcuberta group at EPFL. I studied the their optical properties, analyzing the change in the scattering spectra as the size is changed. I used second harmonic generation to probe the non-linear properties of such nanostructures, finding very interesting correlation between structural properties and optical behavior.

Second harmonic excitation spectroscopy is a very powerful too to investigate material properties. I used it to characterize substoichiometric silicon nitride thin films, to elucidate size-dependent effects on gold nanoparticles, and to obtain polarization-controlled multispectral nanofocusing of metal nanoantennas.

Moreover, I investigated the coupling between photonic and plasmonic properties. In collaboration with EPFL, we designed gold nanoantenna arrays coupled with gallium arsenide nanowires. By using second harmonic excitation spectroscopy, we elucidated all the coupling effects in these systems and we showed that new modes emerge at expenses of the expected structural resonances.

These projects have been funded by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, and performed during my experience at Boston University.

Publication output

Conference proceedings

  • Integration of metallic nanostructures on nanowires for modification of their optical properties
    A. Casadei, E. Alarcon-Llado, E. F. Pecora, J. Trevino, C. Forestiere, D. Ruffer, E. Russo-Averchi, F. Matteini, G. Tutuncuoglu, M. Heiss, L. Dal Negro, A. Fontcuberta i Morral
    Frontiers in Nanophotonics, CSF Conference 2015
  • Second harmonic excitation spectroscopy in studies of Fano-type coupling in plasmonic arrays
    G. F. Walsh, J. Tervino, E. F. Pecora, L. Dal Negro
    SPIE Optics + Photonics 2015
  • Engineering light coupling in single nanowire with metal nano-antennas
    A. Casadei, J. Trevino, E. F. Pecora, E. Alarcò- Lladò, D. Ruffer, E. Russo-Averchi, G. Tutuncuoglu, F. Matteini, C. Forestiere, L. Dal Negro, A. Fontcuberta i Morral
    International Conference on One dimensional Nanomaterials ICON 2013
  • Second-harmonic generation from plasmonic nanoantennas and arrays
    A. Capretti, C. Forestiere, E. F. Pecora, G. Walsh, J. Trevino, S. Minissale, L. Dal Negro, G. Miano
    The International Conference on Surface Plasmon Photonics SPP6
  • Second-harmonic generation in substoichiometric silicon nitride layers
    E. F. Pecora, A. Capretti, G. Miano, L. Dal Negro
    Bulletin of the American Physical Society, vol. 58, V1.00119

Photonic-Plasmonic Coupling of GaAs Single Nanowires to Optical Nanoantennas

We successfully demonstrate the plasmonic coupling between metal nanoantennas and individual GaAs nanowires (NWs). In particular, by using dark-field scattering and second harmonic excitation spectroscopy in partnership with analytical and full-vector FDTD modeling, we demonstrate controlled electromagnetic coupling between individual NWs and plasmonic nanoantennas with gap sizes varied between 90 and 500 nm. The significant electric field enhancement values (up to 20×) achieved inside the NW-nanoantennas gap regions allowed us to tailor the nonlinear optical response of NWs by engineering the plasmonic near-field coupling regime. These findings represent an initial step toward the development of coupled metal–semiconductor resonant nanostructures for the realization of next generation solar cells, detectors, and nonlinear optical devices with reduced footprints and energy consumption.

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Vertical III-V V-shaped membranes epitaxially grown on a patterned Si[001] substrate and their enhanced light scattering

We report on a new form of III–V compound semiconductor nanostructures growing epitaxially as vertical V-shaped nanomembranes on Si(001) and study their light-scattering properties. Precise position control of the InAs nanostructures in regular arrays is demonstrated by bottom-up synthesis using molecular beam epitaxy in nanoscale apertures on a SiO2 mask. The InAs V-shaped nanomembranes are found to originate from the two opposite facets of a rectangular pyramidal island nucleus and extend along two opposite 111 B directions, forming flat {110} walls. Dark-field scattering experiments, in combination with light-scattering theory, show the presence of distinctive shape-dependent optical resonances significantly enhancing the local intensity of incident electromagnetic fields over tunable spectral regions. These new nanostructures could have interesting potential in nanosensors, infrared light emitters, and nonlinear optical elements.

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Nanopatterning of silicon nanowires for enhancing visible photoluminescence

Silicon Nanowires prepared by Metal-Assisted Chemical Etching have been nanopatterned into periodic and aperiodic array geometries displaying functionality at visible wavelengths using top-down planar processing techniques. Broadband photoluminescense enhancement up to approximately one order of magnitude is measured from golden-angle spiral arrays over a wide parameter space.

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Quantum confinement and electroluminescence in ultrathin silicon nanowires fabricated by a maskless etching technique

We present a novel approach for the direct synthesis of ultrathin Si nanowires (NWs) exhibiting room temperature light emission. The synthesis is based on a wet etching process assisted by a metal thin film. The thickness-dependent morphology of the metal layer produces uncovered nanometer-size regions which act as precursor sites for NW formation. The process is cheap, fast, maskless and compatible with Si technology. Very dense arrays of long (several micrometers) and small (diameter of 5–9 nm) NWs have been synthesized. An efficient room temperature luminescence, visible with the naked eye, is observed when NWs are optically excited, exhibiting a blue-shift with decreasing NW size in agreement with quantum confinement effects. A prototype device based on Si NWs has been fabricated showing a strong and stable electroluminescence at low voltages. The relevance and the perspectives of the reported results are discussed, opening the route toward novel applications of Si NWs.

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Kinetics of Si and Ge Nanowires Growth through Electron Beam Evaporation

Si and Ge have the same crystalline structure, and although Si-Au and Ge-Au binary alloys are thermodynamically similar (same phase diagram, with the eutectic temperature of about 360°C), in this study, it is proved that Si and Ge nanowires (NWs) growth by electron beam evaporation occurs in very different temperature ranges and fluence regimes. In particular, it is demonstrated that Ge growth occurs just above the eutectic temperature, while Si NWs growth occurs at temperature higher than the eutectic temperature, at about 450°C. Moreover, Si NWs growth requires a higher evaporated fluence before the NWs become to be visible. These differences arise in the different kinetics behaviors of these systems. The authors investigate the microscopic growth mechanisms elucidating the contribution of the adatoms diffusion as a function of the evaporated atoms direct impingement, demonstrating that adatoms play a key role in physical vapor deposition (PVD) NWs growth. The concept of incubation fluence, which is necessary for an interpretation of NWs growth in PVD growth conditions, is highlighted.

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Nanoscale amorphization, bending and recrystallization in silicon nanowires

Controllable and uniform doping of nanowires (NWs) is the ultimate challenge prior to their effective application. Si NWs amorphize and bend toward the impinging ions under ion irradiation as a result of viscous flow. We demonstrate that thermal annealing induces a full recovery of the crystalline phase corresponding to the unbending of the NWs. The competition between Solid Phase Epitaxy and Random Nucleation and Growth at the nanoscale is the key parameter controlling the recovery.

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