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Title: Dynamic plasmonic metasurfaces in the visible spectrum
Author: Bartholomew, Richard John
ISNI:       0000 0004 7228 2051
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2018
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As visual display technologies move closer to producing true three dimensional displays, pixel technologies need to be ever smaller and more functional to keep pushing the boundaries. Plasmonic metasurfaces have been shown to control the phase, amplitude and/or polarisation of incoming electromagnetic radiation. Nano-fabrication advancements have resulted in the fabrication of the building blocks of such metasurfaces at nano-scale dimensions, allowing the surfaces to interact with visible light, opening up applications in visual displays. As pixel sizes shrink, smaller colour filters will be required. The excitation of plasmonic resonances in metallic nano-structure arrays have resulted in colour filters an order of magnitude smaller than what is currently commercially available. As colour filters, plasmonic metasurfaces offer numerous advantages over pigment-based colour filters used in modern commercial liquid crystal (LC) displays, including environmental, size and longevity factors. Furthermore, exploiting the wavelength and polarisation dependant scattering of nano-structures, optical components, including lenses, waveplates and holograms containing sub-wavelength pixels have been demonstrated in the visible wavelength spectrum. The metasurfaces are able to mould optical wavefronts into arbitrary shapes with sub-wavelength resolution by introducing spatial variations in the optical response of the light scatterers. The applications demonstrated so far are, on the whole, static devices, that is to say their optical properties may not be altered post fabrication. To realise the full potential of plasmonic metasurfaces to visual applications the devices must be made active. By activating structural colour surfaces, not only may pixel densities potentially be increased simply by removing the need for separate red, green and blue filters, but a new class of high definition ultra-thin display devices may be accessible, whilst the dynamic manipulation of the wavelength and polarisation properties of nano-scattering elements would open up the possibilities to create sub-wavelength holographic pixels. This thesis investigates ways to activate static metasurfaces for colour, flat optic, and holographic applications. First, methods of dynamic control of the structural colour of plasmonic nano-hole arrays are investigated. By combining nano-hole arrays with liquid crystals, transmissive electrically tunable LC-nanohole pixels operating across the visible spectrum with un-polarised input light are experimentally demonstrated. An output analyser in combination with a nematic LC layer enables pixel colour to be electronically controlled through an applied voltage across the device, where LC re-orientation leads to tunable mixing of the relative contributions from the plasmonic colour input. Furthermore, exploiting the strong surface anchoring effects between an aluminium surface and LC molecules a twisted nematic LC cell, using a metallic grating as a combined colour filter, electrode and alignment layer, was shown to act a variable amplitude colour filter. The colour of these pixels was improved greatly utilising a grating-insulator-grating structure unique to this work. Second, a new process for fabricating aluminium nano-rod structures embedded in an elastomeric medium, with high spatial accuracy, is presented. The process is used to create nano-rod plasmonic resonator arrays whose optical properties may be altered by mechanical deformation. The pattern transfer process is further utilised to create dynamic optical elements, including nano-rod arrays for colour filters, tunable focal length Fresnel zone plates and photon sieves, and stretchable holograms with dynamic replay fields.
Supervisor: Wilkinson, Timothy Sponsor: EPSRC
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Plasmonic ; plasmonic metasurface ; plasmonic resonance ; surface plasmon polaritons ; Dynamic plasmonic colour ; plasmonic hologram ; dynamic plasmonic hologram ; nano-hole ; strucutral colour ; stretchable holograms