Coupled plasmonic structures for sensing, energy and spectroscopy applications
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Recent advances in nanofabrication and characterization methods have enabled the study of novel optical phenomena, thus boosting the research in nanophotonics and plasmonics. Metal nanostructures offer a route for the excitation of surface plasmons by confining the light in sub-wavelength dimensions, yielding extremely high electromagnetic field intensities. Moreover, coupling different plasmon modes offers a rich optical dispersion which cannot be obtained inherently by using single plasmonic resonator. In this thesis, we first present a detailed study of simple coupled plasmonic structures based on metal-insulator-metal structure. Then, we use similar structures to devise novel optical platforms in various applications such as surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS), surface enhanced infrared absorption spectroscopy (SEIRA) and plasmon enhanced hot-electron devices. The first part of this thesis concentrates on coupled plasmonic structures and their spectroscopy and photodetector applications. Firstly, we study these structures numerically and analytically and show surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) as a possible application with uniform signal intensities over large areas. Then, fabricating these plasmonic surfaces with sub-10nm gaps over large areas lead to development of single molecule Raman spectroscopy platforms. As an energy related application, a contact free characterization method is developed to probe hot electrons where similar coupled plasmonic surfaces are employed as hot electron devices. Finally, using aluminum and its native aluminum oxide hierarchical plasmonic surfaces are fabricated and its spectroscopy applications are demonstrated. In the second part of, we develop interference-coating-based sensing platforms in the visible and infrared wavelengths. Despite large field enhancements, plasmonic structures suffer from low signal intensities due to low mode volumes. To overcome this issue we propose another strategy, namely using interference coatings with small and uniform electric field enhancements over large mode volumes. These surfaces outperform the conventional plasmonic surfaces when they are used as infrared absorption spectroscopy platforms. Finally, similar surfaces are employed as colorimetric sensor platforms to sense monolayer and bilayer proteins simply by change in the surface color.