The field of integrated plasmonics is multifaceted in a way that few other disciplines in applied science are, mainly due to its intrinsic “hybrid” nature of combining materials and strategies borrowed from electronics and photonics. Because of the multitude of angles under which the plasmonic world could be analyzed, and also because of the intrinsic interest behind this branch of physics, numerous review papers have been recently published with the attempt to exhaustively describe this subject and its possible future developments. However, despite the considerable literature already available, a few important aspects deserve a deeper investigation. Among these dark spots we find the lack of a general overview of active plasmonics, specifically focused on the possibility to dynamically alter the optical properties of the constituent plasmonic materials in order to gain full active control over the overall desired functionality. The present review focuses on the possibility to tune the optical properties of said components, deliberately neglecting those strategies relying on the dynamic properties of the dielectric constituent. The present work also will attempt to outline experimental and multidisciplinary aspects of tunable plasmonic devices, giving only a marginal overview of telecom applications, for which considerable literature is already available.
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