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CREOL, The College of Optics & Photonics
Spring 2017
Spring 2016

OSE6650 - Optical Properties of Nanostructured Materials

Theory and applications of nanostructured optical materials: effective medium theory, nanostructured surfaces, plasmon waveguides, nanophotonic circuits, metallic near-field lenses, collective modes in nanoparticle arrays, metamaterials.

This course covers topics dealing with the optical properties of nanostructured materials, with an emphasis on the changes in dielectric behavior due to finite size effects. In the first part of the course we will discuss effective medium theory, including the Maxwell-Garnet description of the refractive index of inhomogeneous materials. We will cover applications of nanostructured dielectrics, including engineered anisotropy on surfaces, as well as anti-reflection coatings based on sub-micron surface structures. The second part of the course will deal with the optical properties of nanostructured metallo-dielectric materials. We will introduce the concept of surface plasmons on metal nanoparticles, and discuss spectral control of the plasmon resonance by tuning shape, size, and dielectric environment. This single particle description will be extended to arrays of interacting metal nanoparticles, leading to the development of propagating modes with sub-wavelength lateral confinement. We will derive the dispersion relation of these plasmon waveguides, and experiments probing the essential features of plasmon waveguides will be discussed. The concept of localized plasmons will be extended to the interaction of nanoscale corrugations on metal surfaces with propagating surface plasmons, including anomalous transmission through hole arrays in thin metal films, and sub-diffraction limit imaging in the near-field using surface plasmons. Finally, we will briefly discuss the concept of metamaterials: composite materials that have been nanostructured to obtain a specific dielectric response. We will discuss how this can give rise to negative refraction, and we will discuss an experimental realization of this concept.

The course includes a hands-on simulation component with industrial level electromagnetics design software. We will simulate the optical excitation of various surface plasmon modes that are relevant to currently ongoing research, including anomalous transmission, and structure design for Surface Enhanced Raman Scattering. The techniques used can also be applied to design of other (e.g. dielectric) nanophotonic systems.


Prerequisites may be waived by the instructor if students are familiar with Maxwell’s equations, wave propagation,    skin depth (optical frequency range), complex refractive index, complex dielectric function, complex susceptibility, complex wavevectors, the Drude and Lorentz models, and the concept of electronic band structure.

Course Website

Electric field distribution around a plasmon resonant silver dimer, simulated by an OSE6650 participant for his final project.


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