Electrons and photons can coexist as a single entity called a surface plasmonan elementary excitation found at the interface between a conductor and an insulator.
Plasmons are evident in the vivid hues of rose windows, which derive their color from small metallic nanoparticles embedded in the glass. They also provide the basis for color-changing biosensors, photo-thermal cancer treatments, improved photovoltaic cell efficiencies, and nano-optical tweezers.
While most applications have relied on classical plasmonic effects, quantum phenomena can also strongly influence the plasmonic properties of nanometer-scale systems. In this presentation, Ill describe my groups efforts to probe plasmon modes spanning both classical and quantum domains.
We first explore the plasmon resonances of individual nanoparticles as they transition from a classical to a quantum-influenced regime. Then, using real-time manipulation of plasmonic particles, we investigate plasmonic coupling between pairs of particles separated by nanometer- and Angstrom-scale gaps. For sufficiently small separations, we observe the effects of quantum tunneling between particles on the plasmonic resonances. Using the properties of coupled metallic nanoparticles, we demonstrate the colloidal synthesis of an isotropic metafluid that exhibits a strong magnetic response at visible frequencies.
Finally, by combining the electric and magnetic resonances of non-magnetic nanoparticles, we design an extremely broadband metamaterial. The ability to assemble, probe, and control both classical and quantum plasmonic junctions may enable new opportunities in fields ranging from catalysis to molecular opto-electronics.