Novel fabrication and testing of light confinement devices

UoM administered thesis: Phd

  • Authors:
  • Josh Ring

Abstract

The goal of this project is to study novel nanoscale excitation volumes, sensitive enoughto study individual chromophores and go on to study new and exciting self assemblyapproaches to this problem. Small excitation volumes may be engineered using light con-finement inside apertures in metal films. These apertures enhance fluorescence emissionrates, quantum yields, decrease fluorescence quenching, enable higher signal-to-noiseratios and allow higher concentration single chromophore fluorescence, to be studied byrestricting this excitation volume. Excitation volumes are reported on using the chro-mophore's fluorescence by utilising fluorescence correlation spectroscopy, which monitorsfluctuations in fluorescence intensity. From the correlation in time, we can find the res-idence time, the number of chromophores, the volume in which they are diffusing andtherefore the fluorescence emission efficiency. Fluorescence properties are a probe ofthe local environment, a particularly powerful tool due to the high brightness (quantumyield) fluorescent dyes and sensitive photo-detection equipment both of which are readilyavailable, (such as avalanche photodiodes and photomultiplier tubes). Novel materialscombining the properties of conducting and non-conducting materials at scales muchsmaller than the incident wavelength are known as meta-materials. These allow combi-nations of properties not usually possible in natural materials at optical frequencies. Theproperties reported so far include; negative refraction, negative phase velocity, fluorescenceemission enhancement, lensing and therefore light confinement has also been proposed tobe possible. Instead of expensive and slow lithography methods many of these materialsmay be fabricated with self assembly techniques, which are truly nanoscopic and otherwiseinaccessible with even the most sophisticated equipment.It was found that nanoscaled volumes from ZMW and HMMs based on NW arrays wereall inefficient at enhancing fluorescence. The primary cause was the reduced fluorescencelifetime reducing the fluorescence efficiency, which runs contrary to some commentatorsin the literature. NW based lensing was found to possible in the blue region of the opticalspectrum in a HMM, without the background fluorescence normally associated with a PAAtemplate. This was achieved using a pseudo-ordered array of relatively large nanowireswith a period just smaller than lambda / 2 which minimised losses. Nanowires in the traditionalregime lambda / 10 produced significant scattering and lead to diffraction, such that they werewholly unsuitable for an optical lensing application.

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Original languageEnglish
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Award date31 Dec 2016