Tunability of the dielectric function of heavily doped germanium thin films for mid-infrared plasmonics

Abstract : Heavily doped semiconductor thin films are very promising for application in mid-infrared plasmonic devices because the real part of their dielectric function is negative and broadly tunable in the 5 to 50 μm wavelength range at least. In this work, we investigate the electrodynamics of heavily n-type-doped germanium epilayers at infrared frequencies beyond the assumptions of the Drude model. The films are grown on silicon and germanium substrates, are in situ doped with phosphorous in the 10 17 to 10 19 cm −3 range, then screened plasma frequencies in the 100 to 1200 cm −1 range were observed. We employ infrared spectroscopy, pump-probe spectroscopy, and dc transport measurements to determine the tunability of the plasma frequency. Although no plasmonic structures have been realized in this work, we derive estimates of the decay time of mid-infrared plasmons and of their figures of merit for field confinement and for surface plasmon propagation. The average electron scattering rate increases almost linearly with excitation frequency, in agreement with quantum calculations based on a model of the ellipsoidal Fermi surface at the conduction band minimum of germanium accounting for electron scattering with optical phonons and charged impurities. Instead, we found weak dependence of plasmon losses on neutral impurity density. In films where a transient plasma was generated by optical pumping, we found significant dependence of the energy relaxation times in the few-picosecond range on the static doping level of the film, confirming the key but indirect role played by charged impurities in energy relaxation. Our results indicate that underdamped mid-infrared plasma oscillations are attained in n-type-doped germanium at room temperature. The recent push towards applications of spectroscopy for chemical and biological sensing in the mid-infrared (mid-IR) [1–8] has prompted the search for conducting thin films displaying values of the complex dielectric functioñ (ω) = (ω) + ii (ω) that can be tailored to meet the needs of novel electromagnetic designs. These exploit the concepts of * michele.ortolani@roma1.infn.it metamaterials, transformation optics, and plasmonics [9]. For example, in the design of metamaterials, subwavelength-sized conducting elements are embedded in dielectric matrices. If the values of | | of the metal and the dielectric are of the same order, but have opposite sign, the geometric filling fractions of the metal and dielectric can be readily tuned to achieve subwavelength-resolution focusing of radiation [10]. Such requirement is, e.g., met by Au in the green part and Ag in the blue part of the visible spectrum. The same condition 2469-9950/2016/94(8)/085202(18) 085202-1
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Physical Review B : Condensed matter and materials physics, American Physical Society, 2016, 94 (8), pp.085202 - 085202-18. 〈10.1103/PhysRevB.94.085202〉
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Jacopo Frigerio, Andrea Ballabio, Giovanni Isella, Emilie Sakat, Giovanni Pellegrini, et al.. Tunability of the dielectric function of heavily doped germanium thin films for mid-infrared plasmonics. Physical Review B : Condensed matter and materials physics, American Physical Society, 2016, 94 (8), pp.085202 - 085202-18. 〈10.1103/PhysRevB.94.085202〉. 〈hal-01696946〉

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