Strong light-matter interaction in lithography-free perfect absorbers for photoconversion, photodetection, light emission, sensing, and filtering applications

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Bilkent University
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The efficient harvesting of electromagnetic (EM) waves by subwavelength nanostructures can result in perfect light absorption in the narrow or broad frequency range. These metamaterial based perfect light absorbers are of particular interest in many applications, including thermal photovoltaics, photovoltaics, emission, sensing, filtering, and photodetection applications. Although advances in nanofabrication have provided the opportunity to observe strong light-matter interaction in various optical nanostructures, the repeatability and upscaling of these nano units have remained a challenge for their use in large-scale applications. Thus, in recent years, the concept of lithography-free metamaterial absorbers (LFMAs) has attracted much attention in different parts of the EM spectrum, owing to their ease of fabrication and high functionality. In this thesis, the unprecedented potential of these LFMAs will be explored. This thesis explores the material and architecture requirements for the realization of a LFMA from ultraviolet (UV) to far-infrared (FIR) wavelength regimes. For this aim, we theoretically investigate the required conditions to realize an ideal perfect absorber. Then, based on the operation wavelength and application, the proper material and design architecture is defined. Later, to experimentally realize these ideal LFMAs, lithography-free large-scale compatible routes are developed to generate nanostructures in centimeter scales. Finally, the application of these LFMAs has been demonstrated in various fields including filtering, sensing, emission, photodetection, and photoelectrochemical water splitting. This thesis study demonstrates that, by the use of proper material and design configuration, it is possible to realize these LFMAs in every portion of the EM spectrum with a vast variety of potential applications. This, in turn, opens up the opportunity of the practical application of these perfect absorbers in large-scale dimensions. In the last section of the thesis, we discuss the progress, challenges, and outlook of this field to outline its future direction.

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Metamaterials, Perfect absorbers, Plasmonics, Large-scales, Filtering, Sensing, Photodetection, Photoelectrochemical water splitting
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