Abstract

We report on the first observation of optically excited surface plasmon polaritons (SPPs) in the conducting phase of vanadium dioxide (VO2) thin films. VO2 is low-loss optical material that undergoes an insulator-metal transition (IMT) under suitable thermal, optical, or electrical stimulation, thus enabling tunable SPP excitation of the conducting phase. Here we applied IR light (1520 nm) to excite SPPs while thermally inducing the IMT by changing the VO2 temperature, and observed a clear trend from nonabsorption in the insulator phase to high absorption in the conducting phase due to SPP excitation in the latter phase. Tunable SPPs in VO2 enable a range of opportunities for low-loss optoplasmonic applications since the rate of the IMT excitation can also be tailored.

© 2012 Optical Society of America

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