Two-Dimensional Plasmonics in Massive and Massless Electron Gases


Plasmonic waves in solid-state are caused by collective oscillation of mobile charges inside or at the surface of conductors. In particular, surface plasmonic waves propagating at the skin of metals have recently attracted interest, as they reduce the wavelength of electromagnetic waves coupled to them by up to ~10 times, allowing one to create miniaturized wave devices at optical frequencies. In contrast, plasmonic waves on two-dimensional (2D) conductors appear at much lower infrared and THz-GHz frequencies, near or in the electronics regime, and can achieve far stronger wavelength reduction factor reaching well above 100. In this thesis, we study the unique machinery of 2D plasmonic waves behind this ultra-subwavelength confinement and explore how it can be used to create various interesting devices. To this end, we first develop a physically intuitive theoretical formulation of 2D plasmonic waves, whose two main components---the Coulomb restoration force and inertia of the collectively oscillating charges---are combined into a transmission-line-like model. We then use this formulation to create various ultra-subwavelength 2D plasmonic devices. For the 2D conductor, we first choose GaAs/AlGaAs heterostructure---a 2D electron gas consisting of massive (m*>0) electrons---demonstrating plasmonic bandgap crystals, interferometers, and negatively refracting metamaterials. We then examine a 2D plasmonic device based on graphene, a 2D electron gas consisting of effectively massless (m*=0) electrons. We theoretically show and experimentally demonstrate that the massless electrons in graphene can surprisingly exhibit a collective mass when subjected to a collective excitation, providing the inertia that is essential for the propagation of 2D plasmonic waves. Lastly, we theoretically investigate the thermal current fluctuation behaviors in massive and massless electron gases. While seemingly unrelated on first sight, we show that the thermal current fluctuation is actually intimately linked to the collective mass of the massive or massless electron gas. Thus, we show that the thermal current fluctuation behaviors can also be described by the same theoretical framework introduced earlier, suggesting a possibility to design new concept devices and experiments based on this linkage.Engineering and Applied Science

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Harvard University - DASH

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