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PLAQNAP Report Summary

Project ID: 341054
Funded under: FP7-IDEAS-ERC
Country: Denmark

Mid-Term Report Summary - PLAQNAP (Plasmon-based Functional and Quantum Nanophotonics)

The project PLAQNAP is dealing with grand challenges in plasmon-based nanophotonics, a brand new and explosively growing research field concerned with surface plasmon waveguides and circuitry. It is oriented towards exploiting the unique characteristic of radiation guiding by plasmonic modes along metal surfaces, viz., extreme mode confinement within dimensions orders of magnitude smaller than the light wavelength: (i) development of ultra-compact plasmonic configurations and (ii) realization of quantum plasmonic components utilizing strong coupling of quantum emitters to extremely confined plasmonic modes.

Thus, we have realized extremely confined plasmonic modes (with lateral dimensions 15 times smaller than the light wavelength) in plasmonic waveguides in metal-strip-loaded and slot waveguides and demonstrated their efficient excitation with plasmonic antennas. In the process of their characterization using the state-of-the-art amplitude- and phase-resolved near-field microscope, we have developed a novel image post-processing of experimental data that allows one to unambiguously characterize plasmonic modes. Furthermore, utilizing strong confinement of plasmonic modes, we have realized the first electro-absorption hybrid graphene–plasmonic waveguide modulator (operating at telecom wavelengths) with reasonably high modulation depth allowing for subsequent miniaturization of plasmon-based nanophotonic circuitry.

We have further exploited unique properties of plasmonic modes for constructing efficient plasmon-based resonators and used their arrays to develop optical metasurfaces producing spatial gradients in the phase of reflected radiation so as to realize ultra-thin flat optical components for moulding the reflected radiation flow. Thus, we have realized the first metasurfaces for mathematical operations (differentiation and integration) on incident electromagnetic waves at visible wavelengths and for simultaneous analysis of states of light polarization by measuring in parallel all Stokes parameters. Furthermore, we have succeeded in the realization of random-phase metasurfaces for stealth technologies and waveguide meta-couplers for in-plane polarimetry.

In the direction of realizing elementary quantum optical functionalities, the key issue is the development of efficient and bright single-photons sources by advantageously exploiting strong field enhancement and confinement that can be achieved both with localized and propagating plasmonic modes. The relaxation and radiation channels of excited two-level quantum emitters, which are located near layered plasmonic nanostructures were considered and quantified using a newly developed formalism for calculating the radiation into plasmonic modes. Analytic solutions were found for a single quantum emitter coupled to a localized SP excited in a metal spherical nanoparticle and as well as for the important case of entanglement of two emitters. As the most important milestone achieved in the direction of quantum plasmonics, we have realized efficient coupling of the emission from a single quantum emitter, represented by a single nitrogen-vacancy centre in a nano-diamond, to the channel plasmon modes supported by V-groove plasmonic waveguides, preparing thereby the solid ground for further work in this direction.

Overall, the research work performed during the reporting period has already generated significant knowledge within the field of plasmon-based nanophotonics by successfully dealing with a number of scientific and technological challenges. The obtained results, which are documented in 30 peer-reviewed publications resulting (at least partially) from and acknowledging this project, elucidate several important issues, enable further progress in our understanding of complicated physical phenomena involved and stimulate further developments towards exploitation of enormous potential of this field.

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