Abstract

A robust plasmonic semiconductor-based Mach–Zehnder interferometer (MZI), which consists of a semiconductor layer with a microslit flanked by two identical microgrooves, is proposed and investigated for the terahertz sensing. The microgrooves reflect the surface plasmon polariton waves toward the microslit, where they interfere with the transmitted terahertz wave. The interference pattern is determined by the permittivities of the sensing material and semiconductor (i.e., temperature dependent), making the structure useful for the refractive index (RI) and temperature detection. A quantitative theoretical model is also developed for performance prediction and validated with a finite element method. The numerical results show that the Mach–Zehnder interferometer sensor possesses an RI sensitivity as high as 140000  nm/RIU (or 0.42  THz/RIU) and a relative intensity sensitivity of 1200%RIU1. In addition, a temperature sensitivity of 1470  nm/K (or 4.7×103  THz/K) is determined. Theoretical calculations indicate that the further improvement in sensing performance is still possible through optimization of the structure. The proposed sensing scheme may pave the way for applications in terahertz sensing and integrated terahertz circuits.

© 2017 Optical Society of America

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