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Self-Organized Nanogratings for Large-Area Surface Plasmon Polariton Excitation and Surface-Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy Sensing

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journal contribution
posted on 24.08.2020, 20:13 by Matteo Barelli, Maria Caterina Giordano, Pietro Giuseppe Gucciardi, Francesco Buatier de Mongeot
Surface plasmon polaritons (SPP) are exploited due to their intriguing properties for the fabrication and miniaturization of photonic circuits, for surface-enhanced spectroscopy and imaging beyond the diffraction limit. However, excitation of these plasmonic modes by direct illumination is forbidden by energy/momentum conservation rules. One strategy to overcome this limitation relies on diffraction gratings to match the wavevector of the incoming photons with that of propagating SPP excitations. The main limit of the approaches so far reported in the literature is that they rely on highly ordered diffraction gratings fabricated by means of demanding nanolithographic processes. In this work, we demonstrate that an innovative, fully self-organized method based on wrinkling-assisted ion-beam sputtering can be exploited to fabricate large-area (cm2 scale) nanorippled soda lime templates, which conformally support ultrathin Au films deposited by physical deposition. The self-organized patterns act as quasi-one-dimensional (1D) gratings characterized by a remarkably high spatial order, which properly matches the transverse photon coherence length. The gratings can thus enable the excitation of hybrid SPP modes confined at the Au/dielectric interfaces, with a resonant wavelength that can be tuned by modifying the grating period, photon incidence angle, or, potentially, the choice of the thin-film conductive material. Surface-enhanced Raman scattering experiments show promising gains in the range of 103, which are competitive, even before a systematic optimization of the sample fabrication parameters, with state-of-the art lithographic systems, demonstrating the potential of such templates for a broad range of optoelectronic applications aiming at plasmon-enhanced photon harvesting for molecular or biosensing.