Plasmonic nanostructures enable microscopic optical manipulation such as light trapping in photonic devices. However, integration of embedded nanostructures into photonic devices has been limited by tractability of nanoscale and microscale descriptions in device architectures. This work uses a linear algebraic model to distinguish geometric optical responses of nanoparticles integrated into dielectric substrates interacting with macroscopic back-reflectors from absorptive and nonlinear plasmonic effects. Measured transmission, reflection, and attenuation (losses) from ceramic and polymer composites supporting two- and three-dimensional distributions of gold nanoparticles, respectively, are predictable using the model. A unique equilateral display format correlates geometric optical behavior and attenuation to nanoparticle density and back-reflector opacity, allowing intuitive, visual specification of density and opacity necessary to obtain a particular optical performance. The model and display format are useful for facile design and integration of plasmonic nanostructures into photonic devices for light manipulation.
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