Innovative photonic components through plasmonics

Fig. 1: Plasmonic waveguides – first results and design for future realizations

In a new EU research project, innovative nanophotonic components are developed at the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH). The systems consist of nanostructures that are applied to metals using polymers. What is so special about this is that they can transmit both electronic and optical signals, meaning that in the future combined electronic and optical data processing shall be possible on the same computer chip, for instance.

The photonic components make use of a phenomenon known as surface plasmons, electromagnetic waves, which propagate across metallic surfaces and are bound to the interface between a thin metal and polymer layer. Using the corresponding nanostructures, it is possible to transmit and process optical signals.

These components are particularly suited to be used for integrated photonic circuits, e.g. for combined electronic and optical signal processing, on-electronic-chip optical interconnects, or mere optical data processing. Such plasmonic systems will not only be smaller and more cost-effective, but also have improved parameters such as power consumption and light intensity, etc.

Applications are particularly possible in the fields of computer chips, high-resolution lithography, and microscopy. The systems shall also contribute to Europe strengthening and maintaining a leading position in the world market for dynamic and active plasmonic components and integrated nanophotonic circuits.

Participating institutes are: The Queen's University of Belfast (UK), Aalborg University (DK), Université de Bourgogne, Dijon (F), SILIOS Technologies (F), and LZH (D).

The project of the European Commission 6th Framework Programme entitled Polymer-based Nanoplasmonic Components and Devices (PLASMOCOM, has been launched on September 1st, 2006.

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Michael Botts
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The Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) carries out research and development in the field of laser technology and is supported by the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Labour and Transport of the State of Lower Saxony (Niedersächsisches Ministerium für Wirtschaft, Arbeit und Verkehr).