Technical: Future opto-electronic and plasmonic devices will rely on generation and control of light-fields within custom-engineered composite materials and nanostructures. In particular, controlled generation and amplification of light in nanoscale materials is crucial for achieving next generation compact, integrated nanophotonic devices. The research program focuses on the fabrication and characterization of dispersion engineered composite metal/polymer nanostructures for practical applications such as novel light emitters and nanoscale plasmon-enhanced organic lasers. The research materials constitute an important step towards achieving increased efficiency, coherent light emitters that are also cost-efficient, processable and scalable. The research project will proceed along two distinct directions. The first effort will address light emission characteristics in composite planar structures comprising semiconducting organic polymers and fractal silver films with tunable dispersive properties. The second task will focus on organic light emitters coherently coupled to ordered metallic meso-structures designed to exhibit a plasmon-induced transparency ? the plasmonic analog to electromagnetically induced transparency. Both tasks will address spatial light emission characteristics, emission enhancement factors and their correlation with the integrated metal nanostructures, spectra of the emitted fields and plasmon-enhanced laser action. Results of this award will lead to (1) new methods for enhancing and controlling light emission in metal/polymer nanocomposites, together with modeling tools and design guidelines for achieving the desired functionalities. (2) New practical architectures for efficient solid state light emitting materials.
Nanostructured metallodielectric composite materials hold the potential for greatly impacting modern photonics, with applications to advanced sensing, imaging and novel light emitting devices. The research work will have significant impact on the development of such future technologies. Students participating in this research will acquire expertise in the field of active plasmonic materials. The research is interdisciplinary in nature, allowing students to gain proficiency in materials science as well as classical and quantum optics, and to develop both experimental and modeling skills. An important goal of this project is to train students in the burgeoning field of plasmonics by exposing university students of all levels to research and multi-disciplinary scientific work. At the undergraduate level the aim is to expand avenues for learning by offering a variety of research and mentoring opportunities. At the graduate level the project addresses student involvement in research, as well as participation in a variety of professional development activities. The latter enable pursuing of scientific knowledge and interests in less-traditional ways, such as participation in a departmentally funded student proposal contest, or informal science education and leadership opportunities. Moreover, the PI's commitment to community outreach and participation in coordinated academic activities serve to further integrate scientific research with evolving societal needs for science education.