Discovery Park Undergraduate Research Internship Program

"Building nanophotonic systems using novel plasmonic materials"

About the Project

Project Time & Type:
Fall 2016 - DURI
Research area(s):
Nanophotonics, Plasmonics, Novel plasmonic materials
Project Description:
Plasmonics is the study about the interaction between free electrons in a metal and electromagnetic fields. When light strikes the surface of a metal, it may generate oscillations of the free electrons that can propagate along the metal surface (surface plasmon polaritons), or undergo localized vibrations (localized surface plasmons). The plasmonic waves can have very high wave vectors and can be confined into spaces much smaller than the diffraction limit. These properties have an enormous potential for solving fundamental limitations in electronics, information sciences, sensing, nonlinear optics, and optofluidics. However, the lack of a suitable material platform largely limits the incorporation of plasmonic systems into conventional and practical technologies. Our group's aim is to overcome these hurdles through the discovery, exploration, and demonstration of alternative materials for plasmonic devices and their applications. Transition metal nitrides, in particular, titanium nitride (TiN) and zirconium nitride (ZrN), exhibit optical and plasmonic properties similar to noble metals with the additional benefits of being temperature tolerant and CMOS compatible. Doped metal oxides are another group of materials that are CMOS compatible, optically tunable, and exhibit low losses in the telecommunication range. Recently, we demonstrated TiN plasmonic waveguides with propagation lengths exceeding 5 mm and a figure of merit outperforming similar waveguides made from gold. In addition to waveguide devices, we are actively pursuing plasmonic modulator designs using a class of alternative materials called transparent conducting oxides (TCOs). Ultimately we envision bringing both transition metal nitride waveguides and TCO modulators onto a single platform in order to realize a plasmonic system capable of pushing past the limitations of conventional electronics. The purpose of this project is twofold. We wish to design ultra compact, low loss waveguides with transition metal nitrides. We also intend to characterize nanoparticles and films of aluminium doped zinc oxide to investigate its performance.
Expected Student Contributions:
1. Simulation of different waveguiding geometries to find a design suitable for modulation applications. 2. Measurement of propagation length in waveguides of TiN and ZrN waveguides. 3. Characterization of AZO nanoparticles using a spectrophotometer.
Related Website(s):
Desired Qualifications:
experience in working with optical devices is desirable
Estimated Weekly Hours:
Department awards independent research credits for this project?

Professor in Charge

Boltasseva, Alexandra
electrical and computer eng

Student Supervisor

Soham Saha
PhD student

Cooperating Faculty

Mikhail Y. Shalaginov
Aveek Dutta