Saman Jahani and Zubin Jacob. 2015.

Photonic skin-depth engineering

. Journal of the Optical Society of America B, 32, 7, Pp. 1346-1353.

Recently, we proposed a paradigm shift in light confinement strategy showing how relaxed total internal reflection and photonic skin-depth engineering can lead to sub-diffraction waveguides without metal [Optica 1, 96 (2014) [CrossRef]  ]. Here, we show that such extreme-skin-depth (e-skid) waveguides can counterintuitively confine light better than the best-case all-dielectric design of high index silicon waveguides surrounded by vacuum. We also establish analytically that figures of merit related to light confinement in dielectric waveguides are fundamentally tied to the skin depth of waves in the cladding, a quantity surprisingly overlooked in dielectric photonics. We contrast the propagation characteristics of the fundamental mode of e-skid waveguides and conventional waveguides to show that the decay constant in the cladding is dramatically larger in e-skid waveguides, which is the origin of sub-diffraction confinement. We also propose an approach to verify the reduced photonic skin depth in experiment using the decrease in the Goos–Hanschen phase shift. Finally, we provide a generalization of our work using concepts of transformation optics where the photonic skin-depth engineering can be interpreted as a transformation on the momentum of evanescent waves.

See also: Photonics
T. Galfsky, H. N. S. Krishnamoorthy, W. Newman, E. E. Narimanov, Z. Jacob, and V. M. Menon. 2015.

Active hyperbolic metamaterials: enhanced spontaneous emission and light extraction

. Optica, 2, 1, Pp. 62-65.

Hyperbolic metamaterials (HMMs) have recently garnered much attention because they possess the potential for broadband manipulation of the photonic density of states and subwavelength light confinement. These exceptional properties arise due to the excitation of electromagnetic states with high momentum (high-𝑘k modes). However, a major hindrance to practical applications of HMMs is the difficulty in coupling light out of these modes because they become evanescent at the surface of the metamaterial. Here we report the first demonstration, to our knowledge, of simultaneous spontaneous emission enhancement and outcoupling of high-𝑘k modes in an active HMM using a high-index-contrast bullseye grating. Quantum dots embedded inside the metamaterial are used for local excitation of high-𝑘k modes. This demonstration could pave the way for the development of photonic devices such as single-photon sources, ultrafast LEDs, and true nanoscale lasers.


Ward D. Newman, Cristian L. Cortes, Jon Atkinson, Sandipan Pramanik, Raymond G. DeCorby, and Zubin Jacob. 12/8/2014.

Ferrell–Berreman Modes in Plasmonic Epsilon-near-Zero Media

. ACS Photonics, 2, 1, Pp. 2-7.

We observe unique absorption resonances in silver/silica multilayer-based epsilon-near-zero (ENZ) metamaterials that are related to radiative bulk plasmon-polariton states of thin-films originally studied by Ferrell (1958) and Berreman (1963). In the local effective medium, metamaterial description, the unique effect of the excitation of these microscopic modes is counterintuitive and captured within the complex propagation constant, not the effective dielectric permittivities. Theoretical analysis of the band structure for our metamaterials shows the existence of multiple Ferrell–Berreman branches with slow light characteristics. The demonstration that the propagation constant reveals subtle microscopic resonances can lead to the design of devices where Ferrell–Berreman modes can be exploited for practical applications ranging from plasmonic sensing to imaging and absorption enhancement.

Lei Gu, J. E. Livenere, G. Zhu, T. U. Tumkur, H. Hu, C. L. Cortes, Z. Jacob, S. M. Prokes, and M. A. Noginov. 12/5/2014.

Angular distribution of emission from hyperbolic metamaterials

. Scientific Reports, 4, 7327.

We have studied angular distribution of emission of dye molecules deposited on lamellar metal/dielectric and Si/Ag nanowire based metamaterials with hyperbolic dispersion. In agreement with the theoretical prediction, the emission pattern of dye on top of lamellar metamaterial is similar to that on top of metal. At the same time, the effective medium model predicts the emission patterns of the nanowire array and the dye film deposited on glass to be nearly identical to each other. This is not the case of our experiment. We tentatively explain the nearly Lambertian (∝cosθ) angular distribution of emission of the nanowire based sample by a surface roughness.

Zubin Jacob. 11/20/2014.

Hyperbolic Phonon-Polaritons

. Nature Materials, 13, Pp. 1081–1083 .

Hexagonal boron nitride nanostructures are shown to sustain phonon–polariton modes with comparable performances to plasmon–polariton modes in graphene but with lower losses.

See also: Quantum
Yu Guo, Sean Molesky, Huan Hu, Cristian L. Cortes, and Zubin Jacob. 8/20/2014.

Thermal excitation of plasmons for near-field thermophotovoltaics

. Applied Physics Letters, 105, 7.

The traditional approaches of exciting plasmons consist of either using electrons (e.g., electron energy loss spectroscopy) or light (Kretchman and Otto geometry) while more recently plasmons have been excited even by single photons. A different approach: thermal excitation of a plasmon resonance at high temperatures using alternate plasmonic media was proposed by S. Molesky et al. [Opt. Express 21, A96–A110 (2013)]. Here, we show how the long-standing search for a high temperature narrowband near-field emitter for thermophotovoltaics can be fulfilled by thermally exciting plasmons. We also describe a method to control Wein's displacement law in the near-field using high temperature epsilon-near-zero metamaterials. Finally, we show that our work opens up an interesting direction of research for the field of slow light: thermal emission control.

See also: Thermal, Quantum
Prashant Shekhar and Zubin Jacob. 7/30/2014.

Strong coupling in hyperbolic metamaterials


Nanoscale light-matter interaction in the weak-coupling regime has been achieved with unique hyperbolic metamaterial modes possessing a high density of states. Here, we show strong coupling between intersubband transitions (ISBTs) of a multiple quantum well (MQW) slab and the bulk polariton modes of a hyperbolic metamaterial (HMM). These HMM modes have large wave vectors (high-k modes) and are normally evanescent in conventional materials. We analyze a metal-dielectric practical multilayer HMM structure consisting of a highly doped semiconductor acting as a metallic layer and an active multiple quantum well dielectric slab. We observe delocalized metamaterial mode interaction with the active materials distributed throughout the structure. Strong coupling and characteristic anticrossing with a maximum Rabi splitting (RS) energy of up to 52 meV is predicted between the high-k mode of the HMM and the ISBT, a value approximately 10.5 times greater than the ISBT linewidth and 4.5 times greater than the material loss of the structure. The scalability and tunability of the RS energy in an active semiconductor metamaterial device have potential applications in quantum well infrared photodetectors and intersubband light-emitting devices.

Yu Guo and Zubin Jacob. 6/18/2014.

Fluctuational electrodynamics of hyperbolic metamaterials

. Journal of Applied Physics , 115, 23.

We give a detailed account of equilibrium and non-equilibrium fluctuational electrodynamics of hyperbolic metamaterials. We show the unifying aspects of two different approaches; one utilizes the second kind of fluctuation dissipation theorem and the other makes use of the scattering method. We analyze the near-field of hyperbolic media at finite temperatures and show that the lack of spatial coherence can be attributed to the multi-modal nature of super-Planckian thermal emission. We also adopt the analysis to phonon-polaritonic super-lattice metamaterials and describe the regimes suitable for experimental verification of our predicted effects. The results reveal that far-field thermal emission spectra are dominated by epsilon-near-zero and epsilon-near-pole responses as expected from Kirchoff's laws. Our work should aid both theorists and experimentalists to study complex media and engineer equilibrium and non-equilibrium fluctuations for applications in thermal photonics.

Prashant Shekhar, Jonathan Atkinson, and Zubin Jacob. 6/11/2014.

Hyperbolic metamaterials: fundamentals and applications

. Nano Convergence , 1, 14.

Metamaterials are nano-engineered media with designed properties beyond those available in nature with applications in all aspects of materials science. In particular, metamaterials have shown promise for next generation optical materials with electromagnetic responses that cannot be obtained from conventional media. We review the fundamental properties of metamaterials with hyperbolic dispersion and present the various applications where such media offer potential for transformative impact. These artificial materials support unique bulk electromagnetic states which can tailor light-matter interaction at the nanoscale. We present a unified view of practical approaches to achieve hyperbolic dispersion using thin film and nanowire structures. We also review current research in the field of hyperbolic metamaterials such as sub-wavelength imaging and broadband photonic density of states engineering. The review introduces the concepts central to the theory of hyperbolic media as well as nanofabrication and characterization details essential to experimentalists. Finally, we outline the challenges in the area and offer a set of directions for future work.

Saman Jahani and Zubin Jacob. 3/31/2014.

Breakthroughs in Photonics 3/31/2014: Relaxed Total Internal Reflection

. Breakthroughs in Photonics 3/31/2014: Relaxed Total Internal Reflection, 7, 3.

Total internal reflection (TIR) is a ubiquitous phenomenon used in photonic devices ranging from waveguides and resonators to lasers and optical sensors. Controlling this phenomenon and light confinement are keys to the future integration of nanoelectronics and nanophotonics on the same silicon platform. We introduced the concept of relaxed TIR, in 2014, to control evanescent waves generated during TIR. These unchecked evanescent waves are the fundamental reason photonic devices are inevitably diffraction limited and cannot be miniaturized. Our key design concept is the engineered anisotropy of the medium into which the evanescent wave extends, thus allowing for skin depth engineering without any metallic components. In this paper, we give an overview of our approach and compare it to key classes of photonic devices such as plasmonic waveguides, photonic crystal waveguides, and slot waveguides. We show how our work can overcome a long-standing issue in photonics, namely, nanoscale light confinement with fully transparent dielectric media.

See also: Photonics