When 3:30 PM - 5:00 PM Oct 10, 2013
Where GM Room, 4th Floor Lurie Building
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The 2013 Van Vlack Lecture Series: Tunable Nanophotonic Materials

Harry A. Atwater
California Institute of Technology

The rapidly developing field of nanophotonics has captured the imagination of physicists, chemists and engineers because of the ability to control optical dispersion and localize light in metal and dielectric structures at nanoscale dimensions with applications in ultramicroscopy, computing, communication, cloaking and chemical/biological detection. New opportunities are presented by plasmonic components and metamaterials designs, including plasmonic metamaterials enabling positive as well as negative effective refractive indices in the visible and near infrared, as well as active plasmonic imaging and switching devices. Usually the properties of such nanophotonic structures are fixed at the time of fabrication, but we explore approaches to making actively tunable materials by modulation of their geometries and complex refractive indices.   We also explore how the electron density-dependent absorption cross-section in metal nanostructures gives rise to the ‘plasmoelectric effect’ in which an electrostatic potential arises from resonant optical absorption, and which requires no internal built-in electric fields or semiconductor components, distinguishing it from other phenomena such as the thermoelectric effect, the photovoltaic effect, rectenna operation or hot electron devices.

The Van Vlack Lecture Series was established in honor of L. H. Van Vlack, to provide a distinguished lecture series from the outstanding leaders in the field of Materials Science and Engineering