Essay on Nanophotonics

Essay on Nanophotonics

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Nanophotonics is the study of the effects of light at the nano-scale. This course on nanophotonics coupled with my previous courses on nanoscale circuit fabrication has taught me a great deal about the nano-scale and nano-electronics. Described in this paper are the uses of several nanophotonic principles which allow us to make and measure in scales never before possible. The first topic, plasmonics, is a physical phenomenon that allows us to measure small changes in thicknesses and also to see well below the diffraction limiting optical restrictions. The implications of this technology are incredible in the fields of biomedical science, nanoengineering, and microscopy. The second topic of this paper, Microscopy, covers two methods of advanced microscopy that allow us to see much smaller than the optical limits allow.


In optics, if a beam of light hits a boundary at a certain critical angle, all the light will be reflected back. In classical physics none of the light crosses the boundary, but is instead reflected back perfectly. If the light is viewed as a potential wave, however, the probability of the particle's location decays inside the second material. This means there is a chance the photon exists within the restricted area, but it does not propagate there. The distance that the decaying, or evanescent, wave travels into the second medium is determined by the change in refractive index at the boundary. The evanescent wave will be changed if it interacts with a particle after crossing the boundary. This change in the wave can be observed by a change in the amount of light reflected back on the side of the first material.

Extending this idea from photons into electrons, we can create a field of plasma osc...

... middle of paper ...

...esonant frequency so that it is only periodically in contact with the material. This allows for a physical feedback of the height of the object but avoids scraping the tip across the material. The final method of imaging with the AFM is non-contact mode. This method is performed by oscillating the cantilever above its resonate frequency so that is is vibrating with an amplitude of 1-10nm. When placed near the surface of an object, the attractive van der Waals forces affect the probe's oscillations. This data is extrapolated and the location of the object is determined. The information is then fed back into the AFM so that the probe can be adjusted to maintain a constant, non-contact distance from the object. The most difficult problem with this method is that moisture between the object and the tip can create unwanted forces and bonds that produce erroneous results.

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