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Experimental realization of optical lumped nanocircuits at infrared wavelengths


The integration of radiofrequency electronic methodologies on micro- as well as nanoscale platforms is crucial for information processing and data-storage technologies1,2,3. In electronics, radiofrequency signals are controlled and manipulated by ‘lumped’ circuit elements, such as resistors, inductors and capacitors. In earlier work4,5, we theoretically proposed that optical nanostructures, when properly designed and judiciously arranged, could behave as nanoscale lumped circuit elements—but at optical frequencies. Here, for the first time we experimentally demonstrate a two-dimensional optical nanocircuit at mid-infrared wavelengths. With the guidance of circuit theory, we design and fabricate arrays of Si3N4 nanorods with specific deep subwavelength cross-sections, quantitatively evaluate their equivalent impedance as lumped circuit elements in the mid-infrared regime, and by Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy show that these nanostructures can indeed function as two-dimensional optical lumped circuit elements. We further show that the connections among nanocircuit elements, in particular whether they are in series or in parallel combination, can be controlled by the polarization of impinging optical signals, realizing the notion of ‘stereo-circuitry’ in metatronics—metamaterials-inspired optical circuitry.

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Figure 1: Sketch of an optical metatronic circuit at infrared wavelengths.
Figure 2: Different views of Si3N4 nanorod arrays as metatronic circuits.
Figure 3: Comparison of experimental data versus theoretical results.


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We thank the staff of the Cornell NanoScale Science and Technology Facility for their assistance and valuable advice. We also thank C. Murray for the opportunity to use the FTIR microscope in his laboratory and J. Grogen for discussion and interaction. This work is supported in part by the US Air Force Office of Scientific Research under grant no FA9550-08-1-0220.

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Authors and Affiliations



Y.S. fabricated the devices, conducted the measurements, and collected the data; B.E. carried out analytical and numerical modelling, and extracted material parameters, B.E., Y.S., A.A. and N.E. were involved in the design of the experiment, B.E., A.A. and N.E. discussed the theoretical and numerical aspects and analysed the relations among the theoretical, numerical and collected measured data; and N.E., as the principal investigator of the project, conceived the idea, planned and coordinated the project and supervised the work. All four authors contributed to the preparation and writing of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Nader Engheta.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Sun, Y., Edwards, B., Alù, A. et al. Experimental realization of optical lumped nanocircuits at infrared wavelengths. Nature Mater 11, 208–212 (2012).

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