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Light in tiny holes


The presence of tiny holes in an opaque metal film, with sizes smaller than the wavelength of incident light, leads to a wide variety of unexpected optical properties such as strongly enhanced transmission of light through the holes and wavelength filtering. These intriguing effects are now known to be due to the interaction of the light with electronic resonances in the surface of the metal film, and they can be controlled by adjusting the size and geometry of the holes. This knowledge is opening up exciting new opportunities in applications ranging from subwavelength optics and optoelectronics to chemical sensing and biophysics.

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Figure 1: Optical transmission properties of single holes in metal films.
Figure 2: Schematic diagram of the fluorescence correlation spectroscopy in a single hole.
Figure 3: Optical properties of single apertures surrounded by periodic corrugations.
Figure 4: Ultrafast miniature photodetector.
Figure 5: Transmission spectrum of hole arrays.
Figure 6: Holes in a dimple array generating the letters ‘hν’ in transmission.
Figure 7: Infrared enhanced vibrational spectra.


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Our research was supported by the European Community, Network of Excellence PLASMO-NANO-DEVICES, STREP SPP, the ANR grant COEXUS, the CNRS, and the French Ministry of Higher Education and Research.

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Genet, C., Ebbesen, T. Light in tiny holes. Nature 445, 39–46 (2007).

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