The propagation of surface plasmon polaritons on metallic waveguides adjacent to a gain medium is considered. It is shown that the presence of the gain medium can compensate for the absorption losses in the metal. The conditions for existence of a surface plasmon polariton and its lossless propagation and wavefront behavior are derived analytically for a single infinite metal-gain boundary. In addition, the cases of thin slab and stripe geometries are also investigated using finite element simulations. The effect of a finite gain layer and its distance from the SPP waveguide is also investigated. The calculated gain requirements suggest that lossless gain-assisted surface plasmon polariton propagation can be achieved in practice for infrared wavelengths.
© 2004 Optical Society of America
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