Plasmonic circuits would be even faster and more useful if researchers could devise a "plasmonster" switch--a three-terminal plasmonic device with transistorlike properties. My lab at Caltech and other research groups have recently developed low-power versions of such a switch. If scientists can produce plasmonsters with better performance, the devices could serve as the core of an ultrafast signal-processing system, an advance that could revolutionize computing 10 to 20 years from now Plasmonics has the potential to play a unique and important role in enhancing the processing speed of future integrated circuits. The field has witnessed an explosive growth over the last few years and our knowledge base in plasmonics is rapidly expanding. As a result, the role of plasmonic devices on a chip is also becoming more well-defined .
The valuable information about plasmonic structures provided by PSTM measurements allows us to evaluate the utility of plasmonics for interconnection. Plasmonic stripe waveguides provide a natural starting point for this discussion as such stripes very closely resemble conventional metal interconnects.
Electron beam lithography has been used to generate 55 nm thick Au stripes on a SiO2 glass slide with stripe widths ranging from 5 μm to 50 nm. Au stripes are ideal for fundamental waveguide transport studies as they are easy to fabricate, do not oxidize, and exhibit a qualitatively similar plasmonic response to Cu and Al. Figure 3a shows an optical micrograph of a typical device consisting of a large Au area from which SPPs can be launched onto varying width metal stripes. A scanning electron microscopy (SEM) image of a 250 nm wide stripe is shown as an inset. The red arrow shows how light is launched from a focused laser spot into 1 μm wide strip
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