Bleach Imaged Plasmon Propagation (BlIPP) of Metallic Nanoparticle Waveguides
Doctor of Philosophy
The high speed transfer of information in materials with dimensions below the sub-diffraction limit is essential for future technological developments. Metallic nanoparticle (NP) waveguides serve a unique role in efficient energy transfer in this size regime. Light may be confined to metallic structures and propagate along the surface of the waveguide via propagating plasmon waves known as surface plasmon polaritons (SPPs). Plasmon propagation of energy in metallic structures is not perfect however and damping losses from the waveguide material lead to a characteristic exponential decay in the plasmon near field intensity. This decay length is known as the propagation length and serves as an excellent metric to compare various waveguide materials and structures to one another at particular excitation wavelengths. This thesis presents recent work in the development of a novel measurement technique termed bleach imaged plasmon propagation (BlIPP). BlIPP uses the photobleaching property of fluorophores and far field fluorescence microscopy to probe the near-field intensity of propagating plasmons and determine the propagation length. The experimental setup, image analysis, conditions, and application of BlIPP are developed within this thesis and an in depth review of the 1-photon photobleaching mechanism is also investigated. The BlIPP method is used to investigate long plasmon propagation lengths along straight chains of tightly packed Au NPs through the coupling of light to sub-radiant propagating modes, where radiative energy losses are suppressed. The findings of this work reveal, experimentally, the importance of small gap distances for the propagation of energy. Complex chain architectures are then explored using BlIPP measurements of tightly packed straight and bent chains of spherical silver NPs. We observe the highly efficient propagation of energy around sharp corners with no additional bending losses. The findings of this thesis demonstrate the advantages and capabilities of using BlIPP propagation length measurement. Further, BlIPP is used to reveal the advantage of coupling light to sub-radiant modes of NP chains, which demonstrate the ability to guide light efficiently across long distances and around complex structures, bringing us a step closer to the goal of applying plasmonic devices and circuitry in ultra compact opto-electronic devices.