The term 'plasmonics' refers to the science and technology dealing with manipulation of electromagnetic signals by coherent coupling of photons to free electron oscillations at the interface between a conductor and a dielectric.
This field of research has emerged as an extremely promising technology with several main fields of application: information technologies, energy, high-density data storage, life sciences and security. The opportunity to guide light in the form of surface plasmon waves on metallic films is attractive for the development of integrated photonic chips where the information can be processed all-optically without the need of electronic-to-optical and optical-to-electronic conversion, as well as for integrating photonics with silicon electronics on a fully compatible platform.
Performance of optoelectronic devices, such as light emitting diodes and photodetectors, can also be improved by integrating them with plasmonic nanostructures. Recent research in plasmonics has led to significant progress in development of various passive plasmonic components, such as waveguides, plasmonic crystals, plasmonic metamaterials, with tailored photonic properties. Plasmonic studies have, however, almost exclusively concentrated on pure metallic nanostructures and passive devices with properties fixed by the nanostructure parameters. At the same time, real-life applications require active control to achieve signal switching and modulation, amplification to compensate losses along with the direct generation and detection of plasmons. All these can be realised if plasmonic nanostructures are hybridised with functional (molecular or ferroelectric) materials. Here we propose to develop and study hybrid plasmonic nanostructures consisting of nanostructured metals combined with dielectrics to enable active functionalities in plasmonic circuitry. This project will unlock the plasmonics' potential for improvement of real-world photonic and optoelectronic devices and provide insight into physical phenomena which are important for various areas of optical physics and photonic technologies.