Plasmonic Gold Trimers and Dimers with Air-Filled Nanogaps

Zachary R Lawson, Arin S Preston, Matiyas T Korsa, Nathaniel L Dominique, Walker J Tuff, Eli Sutter, Jon P Camden, Jost Adam*, Robert A Hughes, Svetlana Neretina*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


The subwavelength confinement of light energy in the nanogaps formed between adjacent plasmonic nanostructures provides the foundational basis for nanophotonic applications. Within this realm, air-filled nanogaps are of central importance because they present a cavity where application-specific nanoscale objects can reside. When forming such configurations on substrate surfaces, there is an inherent difficulty in that the most technologically relevant nanogap widths require closely spaced nanostructures separated by distances that are inaccessible through standard electron-beam lithography techniques. Herein, we demonstrate an assembly route for the fabrication of aligned plasmonic gold trimers with air-filled vertical nanogaps having widths that are defined with spatial controls that exceed those of lithographic processes. The devised procedure uses a sacrificial oxide layer to define the nanogap, a glancing angle deposition to impose a directionality on trimer formation, and a sacrificial antimony layer whose sublimation regulates the gold assembly process. By further implementing a benchtop nanoimprint lithography process and a glancing angle ion milling procedure as additional controls over the assembly, it is possible to deterministically position trimers in periodic arrays and extend the assembly process to dimer formation. The optical response of the structures, which is characterized using polarization-dependent spectroscopy, surface-enhanced Raman scattering, and refractive index sensitivity measurements, shows properties that are consistent with simulation. This work, hence, forwards the wafer-based processing techniques needed to form air-filled nanogaps and place plasmonic energy at site-specific locations.

Original languageEnglish
JournalACS Applied Materials & Interfaces
Issue number24
Publication statusPublished - 22. Jun 2022


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