Plasmonics

 

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Plasmonics is an emerging field in optics dealing with the so-called surface plasmons whose extraordinary properties are being both analyzed from a fundamental point of view and exploited for numerous technological applications. Surface plasmons associated with surface electron density oscillations decorating metal?dielectric interfaces were discovered by Rufus Ritchie in the 1950s. Plasmons travel at the speed of light and are created when light hits a metal at a particular angle, causing waves to propagate through electrons near the surface. Since the seventies, the subwavelength confinement of electromagnetic fields as well as their enhancement inherent to the surface plasmon excitation has been widely used for spectroscopic purposes. Recent advances in nano-fabrication, characterization and modelling techniques have allowed unique properties of these surface electromagnetic modes to be explored with respect to subwavelength field localization and waveguiding, opening the path to truly nanoscale plasmonic optical devices. This area of investigation also has interesting links with research on photonic band gap materials and the field of optical metamaterials. Nowadays, plasmonics can be seen as a mature interdisciplinary area of research in which scientists coming from different backgrounds (chemistry, physics, optics and engineering) strive to discover and exploit new and exciting phenomena associated with surface plasmons. The already made and forthcoming discoveries will have impacts in many fields of science and technology, including not only photonics and materials science but also computation, biology and medicine, among others.

APPLICATIONS

1. Currently the biggest application for plasmons is in gold-coated glass biosensors, which detect when particular proteins or DNA are present.

2. The big advantage of plasmons is that you can make the devices the same size as electrical components but give them the speed of photons.

3. Plasmon-carrying wires could also be made out of copper or aluminium, like the interconnects on today's computer chips.

4. They could operate at frequencies 100,000 times faster than today's Pentium chips, without requiring thicker wiring.

 

LIMITATIONS

1.The main limitation to plasmonics today is that plasmons tend to dissipate after only a few millimeters, making them too short-lived to serve as a basis for computer chips, which are a few centimeters across.

2. For sending data even longer distances, the technology would need even more improvement. The key is using a material with a low refractive index, ideally negative, There exists no natural material with a negative refractive index

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