Imaging surface plasmon polaritons using proximal self-assembled InGaAs quantum dots

Research paper by Gregor Bracher, Konrad Schraml, Mäx Blauth, Jakob Wierzbowski, Nicolas Coca Lopez, Max Bichler, Kai Müller, Jonathan J. Finley, Michael Kaniber

Indexed on: 26 May '14Published on: 26 May '14Published in: Physics - Mesoscopic Systems and Quantum Hall Effect


We present optical investigations of hybrid plasmonic nanosystems consisting of lithographically defined plasmonic Au-waveguides or beamsplitters on GaAs substrates coupled to proximal self-assembled InGaAs quantum dots. We designed a sample structure that enabled us to precisely tune the distance between quantum dots and the sample surface during nano-fabrication and demonstrated that non-radiative processes do not play a major role for separations down to $\sim 10 nm$. A polarized laser beam focused on one end of the plasmonic nanostructure generates propagating surface plasmon polaritons that, in turn, create electron-hole pairs in the GaAs substrate during propagation. These free carriers are subsequently captured by the quantum dots $\sim 25 nm$ below the surface, giving rise to luminescence. The intensity of the spectrally integrated quantum dot luminescence is used to image the propagating plasmon modes. As the waveguide width reduces from $5 \mu m$ to $1 \mu m$, we clearly observe different plasmonic modes at the remote waveguide end, enabling their direct imaging in real space. This imaging technique is applied to a plasmonic beamsplitter facilitating the determination of the splitting ratio between the two beamsplitter output ports as the interaction length $L_i$ is varied. A splitting ratio of $50:50$ is observed for $L_i\sim 9\pm1 \mu m$ and $1 \mu m$ wide waveguides for excitation energies close to the GaAs band edge. Our experimental findings are in good agreement with mode profile and finite difference time domain simulations for both waveguides and beamsplitters.