Abstract

Percolation processes are ubiquitous in nature and are responsible for many critical phenomena such as first-order phase transitions and infectious epidemic networks. The optical properties of a percolative medium can generally be captured by the effective medium approximation (EMA) when the degree of percolation and the properties of the constituent materials are properly addressed. However, the important local collective responses of nanoclusters in the deep subwavelength regime are often only phenomenologically addressed in the standard EMA formalism. A comprehensive method that measures local light–matter interactions and registers how the local responses influence global optical properties has yet to be established on a firm basis. In this paper, we use infrared nano-imaging/spectroscopy to investigate percolative gold films in the vicinity of the critical percolation threshold. We demonstrate experimentally and theoretically that the near-field spectra yield quantitative information of the characteristic length scale of the local gold clusters and their relative oscillator strengths. As a result, EMA analysis can be augmented with near-field nano-spectroscopy to yield better predictability of the far-field reflection spectrum at the corresponding spectral range.

© 2019 Optical Society of America

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