Save time using maths: analytical tool designs corkscrew-shaped nano-antennae

The nano-antennae werde produced in an electron microscope by direct electron-beam writing.

The nano-antennae werde produced in an electron microscope by direct electron-beam writing. © HZB

For the first time, an HZB team has derived analytically how corkscrew-shaped nano-antennas interact with light. The mathematical tool can be used to calculate the geometry that a nano-antenna must have for specific applications in sensor technology or information technology.

The nanostructures from Katja Höflich's HZB team are shaped like corkscrews and made of silver. Mathematically, such a nano antenna can be regarded as an one-dimensional line that forms a helix, characterized by parameters such as diameter, length, number of turns per unit length, and handedness.

The nano corkscrews are highly sensitive to light: depending on frequency and polarisation, they can strongly enhance it. Because helical antennas have a handedness, they can select light quanta according to their handedness, i.e. their spin. This results in novel applications in information technology based on the spin quantum number of light. Another application may lay in sensor technology in detecting chiral molecular species down to the single molecule level.

Usually, the interaction of such nano-antennas with an electromagnetic field is determined using numerical methods. Each helix geometry, however, requires a new numerically expensive calculation.

For the first time, Höflich and her team have now derived an analytically exact solution of the problem. “We now have a formula that tells us how a nano-antenna with specific parameters responds to light”, says Höflich. This analytical description can be used as a design tool, as it specifies the required geometrical parameters of a nano-helix to amplify electromagnetic fields of desired frequencies or polarisation.

The HZB researchers were able to  fabricate nano-antennae in an electron microscope at the CCMS corelab of HZB by using direct electron-beam writing. The electron beam first writes a helix-shaped carbon structure one point at a time. This structure is subsequently coated with silver. The actual measurements of the optical properties for these silver nano-antennae are in good agreement with the calculated properties predicted by the analytical model.

Optica  (2019, Vol. 6, Issue 9): “Resonant behavior of a single plasmonic helix”; Katja Höflich, Thorsten Feichtner, Enno Hansjürgen, Caspar Haverkamp, Heiko Kollmann, Christoph Lienau, Martin Siles.

 

DOI: 10.1364/OPTICA.6.001098

arö


You might also be interested in

  • Unconventional piezoelectricity in ferroelectric hafnia
    Science Highlight
    26.02.2024
    Unconventional piezoelectricity in ferroelectric hafnia
    Hafnium oxide thin films are a fascinating class of materials with robust ferroelectric properties in the nanometre range. While the ferroelectric behaviour is extensively studied, results on piezoelectric effects have so far remained mysterious. A new study now shows that the piezoelectricity in ferroelectric Hf0.5Zr0.5O2 thin films can be dynamically changed by electric field cycling. Another ground-breaking result is a possible occurrence of an intrinsic non-piezoelectric ferroelectric compound. These unconventional features in hafnia offer new options for use in microelectronics and information technology.
  • 14 parameters in one go: New instrument for optoelectronics
    Science Highlight
    21.02.2024
    14 parameters in one go: New instrument for optoelectronics
    An HZB physicist has developed a new method for the comprehensive characterisation of semiconductors in a single measurement. The "Constant Light-Induced Magneto-Transport (CLIMAT)" is based on the Hall effect and allows to record 14 different parameters of transport properties of negative and positive charge carriers. The method was tested now on twelve different semiconductor materials and will save valuable time in assessing new materials for optoelectronic applications such as solar cells.
  • Sodium-ion batteries: How doping works
    Science Highlight
    20.02.2024
    Sodium-ion batteries: How doping works
    Sodium-ion batteries still have a number of weaknesses that could be remedied by optimising the battery materials. One possibility is to dope the cathode material with foreign elements. A team from HZB and Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin has now investigated the effects of doping with Scandium and Magnesium. The scientists collected data at the X-ray sources BESSY II, PETRA III, and SOLARIS to get a complete picture and uncovered two competing mechanisms that determine the stability of the cathodes.