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Opt Express. 2011 Oct 10;19(21):19973-86. doi: 10.1364/OE.19.019973.

Surface plasmon-polariton propagation in piecewise linear chains of composite nanospheres: the role of optical gain and chain layout.

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  • 1Advanced Computing and Simulation Laboratory, Department of Electrical and Computer Systems Engineering,Monash University, Clayton, VIC 3800, Australia.


The energy transport properties of plasmonic waveguides can be analyzed by solving the dispersion relation for surface plasmon-polaritons (SPPs). We use this approach to derive an approximate analytical expression for SPP propagation length when the waveguide is composed of linearly arranged metallic nanoparticles, while assuming that metal losses are small or partially compensated by gain. Applied to metal-dielectric (composite) nanospheres, the obtained expression allows us to optimize the performance of the waveguide and arrive at a number of practical design rules. Specifically, we show that SPP attenuation can be minimized at a certain interparticle distance for transverse modes, but gradually grows for both longitudinal and transverse modes with the increase of particle separation. We also show that the two basic methods of supplying gain to the system, i.e., embedding the particles into a gain medium or having a metal-gain composition for the particles, do not perform equally well and the former method is more efficient, but the way the two methods affect depends on the polarization of SPPs. To investigate the role of the nanoparticles' arrangement in determining SPP characteristics, we follow a purely numerical approach and consider a two-segment bent waveguide as an example. Analyzing the waveguide's transmission shows that it behaves in an oscillatory manner with respect to the angle between the two segments and is therefore higher for certain angles than for the others. This suggests that, in the design of waveguides with bends, careful attention needs to be paid in order to avoid bend angles that yield low transmission and to choose angles that give maximum transmission.

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