Abstract

We show that the theory of potential transmittance (PT) is useful for problems involving photon tunneling through metal-dielectric stacks, regardless of whether the tunneling is mediated by Fabry–Perot or surface-plasmon resonances. A unifying principle is that, given a total thickness of metal, subdividing the metal into a larger number of thin films increases the maximum PT. For Fabry–Perot-based tunneling, we apply the concept of equivalent layers to stacks comprising dielectric-metal-dielectric unit cells and explore the conditions for impedance matching to an external air medium. This approach demonstrates that, to optimize transmittance, thicker metal films require higher-index dielectric spacers. For surface-plasmon-mediated tunneling, we confirm that the maximum transmittance also lies within the limits predicted by PT theory.

© 2011 Optical Society of America

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