Electrical excitation of surface plasmon polaritons by inelastic tunneling electrons with resonant nanoantennas

Cheng Zhang 1
1 Laboratoire Charles Fabry / Naphel
LCF - Laboratoire Charles Fabry
Abstract : Surface plasmon polaritons (SPPs) plays a central role in nanophotonics because they are optical modes that can be confined in space at the 10 nm scale and in time at the 10 fs scale. Electrical excitation of surface plasmon polaritons by inelastic tunneling electrons has the potential to be fast and localized so that it offers the opportunity to develop a nanosource for on-chip nanophotonics taking advantage of the full potential of surface plasmons polaritons. However, inelastic tunneling is rather inefficient with a typical electron-to-plasmon conversion efficiency of 10-7~10-5. In this thesis manuscript, we present a study for enhancing surface plasmon emission by inelastic tunneling electrons with a resonant nanoantenna. It consists of theoretical and experimental investigations. First, we have developed a theoretical model to describe the light emission from a tunnel junction based on the fluctuation-dissipation theorem. Second, we have theoretically demonstrated two strategies to improve the antenna SPP efficiency thus aiming to enhance electron-to-plasmon conversion efficiency. We introduce a resonant antenna mode with a sub-nanometer gap in order to enhance the coupling between the inelastic current and the the mode. Furthermore, we introduce the hybridization in a nanopatch antenna between a gap mode and an antenna mode to launch SPPs: we theoretically predict that 30% of the power emitted by a dipole is converted into SPP (working wavelength at 800nm) with a 1nm gap thickness. Third, we have developed the fabrication procedures to realize antenna tunnel junctions based on the Al/AlOx/Au configuration. The fabricated antenna junction shows a robust functionality both regarding electrical and optical properties. The antenna junction is demonstrated to control the SPP emission spectrum, the SPP emission polarization and enhance the SPP emission efficiency by over 3 orders of magnitude. The total SPP power emitted is in the range of 10 pW, four orders of magnitude larger than the typical fW power emitted by a scanning tunneling tip junction.
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Cheng Zhang. Electrical excitation of surface plasmon polaritons by inelastic tunneling electrons with resonant nanoantennas. Optics [physics.optics]. Université Paris-Saclay, 2019. English. ⟨NNT : 2019SACLO007⟩. ⟨tel-02296868⟩

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