Abstract

A novel material platform based on metallic thin films with ultra-low losses in the visible and near-IR range is crucial for rapid development of a wide range of new generation plasmonic devices. For many years silver has been known as potentially the best plasmonic material with the naturally lowest ohmic losses at optical frequencies. However, the widespread implementation of the silver-based material platform for plasmonics and metamaterials is limited due to technological challenges in thin film synthesis and nanoscale features fabrication techniques. This review describes the main types of silver-based plasmonic devices from the thin films point of view required for their widespread practical application. Based on comparative analysis of more than 60-year-long history of previously reported data for the silver thin films, the authors formulate the qualitative and quantitative criteria of "ideal" silver film (which the authors name the silver "dream" plasmonic film) for plasmonic devices with ultra-low loss. This paper outlines on several well-known metrology issues in plasmonic metallic films characterization and summarize the set of methods for their properties careful and precise extraction. Finally, the detailed analysis of silver synthesis techniques and quantitative comparison of the achieved silver properties is carried out.

© 2019 Optical Society of America under the terms of the OSA Open Access Publishing Agreement

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2018 (3)

S. I. Bogdanov, M. Y. Shalaginov, A. S. Lagutchev, C.-C. Chiang, D. Shah, A. S. Baburin, I. A. Ryzhikov, I. A. Rodionov, A. V. Kildishev, A. Boltasseva, and et al.,“Ultrabright room-temperature sub-nanosecond emission from single nitrogen-vacancy centers coupled to nanopatch antennas,”Nano letters 18,4837–4844 (2018).
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A. S. Baburin, A. S. Kalmykov, R. V. Kirtaev, D. V. Negrov, D. O. Moskalev, I. A. Ryzhikov, P. N. Melentiev, I. A. Rodionov, and V. I. Balykin,“Toward theoretically limited spp propagation length above two hundred microns on ultra-smooth silver surface,”Optical Materials Express 8,3254–3261 (2018).
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N. N. Durmanov, R. R. Guliev, A. V. Eremenko, I. A. Boginskaya, I. A. Ryzhikov, E. A. Trifonova, E. V. Putlyaev, A. N. Mukhin, S. L. Kalnov, M. V. Balandina, and et al.,“Non-labeled selective virus detection with novel sers-active porous silver nanofilms fabricated by electron beam physical vapor deposition,”Sensors and Actuators B: Chemical 257,37–47 (2018).
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2017 (10)

S. Sederberg, C. J. Firby, S. R. Greig, and A. Y. Elezzabi,“Integrated nanoplasmonic waveguides for magnetic, nonlinear, and strong-field devices,”Nanophotonics 6,235–257 (2017).
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J. B. Khurgin,“Replacing noble metals with alternative materials in plasmonics and metamaterials: how good an idea?” Phil. Trans. R. Soc. A 375,20160068 (2017).
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H. Reddy, U. Guler, K. Chaudhuri, A. Dutta, A. V. Kildishev, V. M. Shalaev, and A. Boltasseva,“Temperature-dependent optical properties of single crystalline and polycrystalline silver thin films,”ACS Photonics 4,1083–1091 (2017).
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Y. Shan, G. Hu, L. Gu, H. He, A. Zeng, Y. Zhao, and A. Sytchkova,“Measuring optical constants of ultrathin layers using surface-plasmon-resonance-based imaging ellipsometry,”Applied optics 56,7898–7904 (2017).
[Crossref] [PubMed]

G. Hu, H. He, A. Sytchkova, J. Zhao, J. Shao, M. Grilli, and A. Piegari,“High-precision measurement of optical constants of ultra-thin coating using surface plasmon resonance spectroscopic ellipsometry in otto-bliokh configuration,”Optics Express 25,13425–13434 (2017).
[Crossref] [PubMed]

H. Y. Hong, J. S. Ha, S.-S. Lee, and J. H. Park,“Effective propagation of surface plasmon polaritons on graphene-protected single-crystalline silver films,”ACS applied materials & interfaces 9,5014–5022 (2017).
[Crossref]

M. Mäkelä, T. Hatanpää, K. Mizohata, K. Meinander, J. Niinistö, J. Räisänen, M. Ritala, and M. Leskelä,“Studies on thermal atomic layer deposition of silver thin films,”Chemistry of Materials 29,2040–2045 (2017).
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S. I. Bozhevolnyi and J. B. Khurgin,“The case for quantum plasmonics,”Nature Photonics 11,398 (2017).
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H. Siampour, S. Kumar, and S. I. Bozhevolnyi,“Nanofabrication of plasmonic circuits containing single photon sources,”Acs Photonics 4,1879–1884 (2017).
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P. Melentiev, A. Kalmykov, A. Gritchenko, A. Afanasiev, V. Balykin, A. Baburin, E. Ryzhova, I. Filippov, I. Rodionov, I. Nechepurenko, and et al.,“Plasmonic nanolaser for intracavity spectroscopy and sensorics,”Applied Physics Letters 111,213104 (2017).
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2016 (7)

I. Aharonovich, D. Englund, and M. Toth,“Solid-state single-photon emitters,”Nature Photonics 10,631 (2016).
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M. P. Nielsen, L. Lafone, A. Rakovich, T. P. Sidiropoulos, M. Rahmani, S. A. Maier, and R. F. Oulton,“Adiabatic nanofocusing in hybrid gap plasmon waveguides on the silicon-on-insulator platform,”Nano letters 16,1410–1414 (2016).
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V. Shaidiuk and S. G. Menabde,“Modal evolution in asymmetric three-and four-layer plasmonic waveguides,”Optics express 24,16595–16608 (2016).
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A. Baryshev and A. Merzlikin,“Tunable plasmonic thin magneto-optical wave plate,”JOSA B 33,1399–1405 (2016).
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S. Gwo, C.-Y. Wang, H.-Y. Chen, M.-H. Lin, L. Sun, X. Li, W.-L. Chen, Y.-M. Chang, and H. Ahn,“Plasmonic metasurfaces for nonlinear optics and quantitative sers,”Acs Photonics 3,1371–1384 (2016).
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A. Mameli, F. van den Bruele, C. K. Ande, M. A. Verheijen, W. Kessels, and F. Roozeboom,“On the growth, percolation and wetting of silver thin films grown by atmospheric-plasma enhanced spatial atomic layer deposition,”ECS Transactions 75,129–142 (2016).
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B. Dastmalchi, P. Tassin, T. Koschny, and C. M. Soukoulis,“A new perspective on plasmonics: confinement and propagation length of surface plasmons for different materials and geometries,”Advanced Optical Materials 4,177–184 (2016).
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2015 (16)

H. U. Yang, J. D’Archangel, M. L. Sundheimer, E. Tucker, G. D. Boreman, and M. B. Raschke,“Optical dielectric function of silver,”Physical Review B 91,235137 (2015).
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C.-Y. Wang, H.-Y. Chen, L. Sun, W.-L. Chen, Y.-M. Chang, H. Ahn, X. Li, and S. Gwo,“Giant colloidal silver crystals for low-loss linear and nonlinear plasmonics,”Nature communications 6,7734 (2015).
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Y. Zhong, S. D. Malagari, T. Hamilton, and D. M. Wasserman,“Review of mid-infrared plasmonic materials,”Journal of Nanophotonics 9,093791 (2015).
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S. Babar and J. Weaver,“Optical constants of cu, ag, and au revisited,”Applied Optics 54,477–481 (2015).
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J. Gong, R. Dai, Z. Wang, and Z. Zhang,“Thickness dispersion of surface plasmon of ag nano-thin films: determination by ellipsometry iterated with transmittance method,”Scientific reports 5,9279 (2015).
[Crossref] [PubMed]

S. V. Jayanti, J. H. Park, A. Dejneka, D. Chvostova, K. M. McPeak, X. Chen, S.-H. Oh, and D. J. Norris,“Low-temperature enhancement of plasmonic performance in silver films,”Optical materials express 5,1147–1155 (2015).
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P. Nsimama,“Morphological and structural properties of silver nanofilms annealed by rtp in different atmospheres,”American Journal of Nano Research and Applications 3,99–104 (2015).

S. Shen, L. Meng, Y. Zhang, J. Han, Z. Ma, S. Hu, Y. He, J. Li, B. Ren, T.-M. Shih, and et al.,“Plasmon-enhanced second-harmonic generation nanorulers with ultrahigh sensitivities,”Nano letters 15,6716–6721 (2015).
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S. Unser, I. Bruzas, J. He, and L. Sagle,“Localized surface plasmon resonance biosensing: current challenges and approaches,”Sensors 15,15684–15716 (2015).
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K. M. McPeak, S. V. Jayanti, S. J. Kress, S. Meyer, S. Iotti, A. Rossinelli, and D. J. Norris,“Plasmonic films can easily be better: rules and recipes,”ACS photonics 2,326–333 (2015).
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W. R. Wong, F. R. M. Adikan, and P. Berini,“Long-range surface plasmon y-junctions for referenced biosensing,”Optics Express 23,31098–31108 (2015).
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R. Malureanu and A. Lavrinenko,“Ultra-thin films for plasmonics: a technology overview,”Nanotechnology Reviews 4,259–275 (2015).
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Y. Fang and M. Sun,“Nanoplasmonic waveguides: towards applications in integrated nanophotonic circuits,”Light: Science & Applications 4,e294(2015).
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F. Gou, X. Li, J. Chen, G. Su, C. Liu, and Z. Zhang,“Broadband absorption enhancement in ultrathin-film solar cells by combining dielectric nanogratings and metallic nanoribbons,”Journal of Nanophotonics 9,093596 (2015).
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H. H. Nguyen, J. Park, S. Kang, and M. Kim,“Surface plasmon resonance: a versatile technique for biosensor applications,”Sensors 15,10481–10510 (2015).
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A. A. High, R. C. Devlin, A. Dibos, M. Polking, D. S. Wild, J. Perczel, N. P. de Leon, M. D. Lukin, and H. Park,“Visible-frequency hyperbolic metasurface,”Nature 522,192 (2015).
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2014 (15)

X. Meng, J. Liu, A. V. Kildishev, and V. M. Shalaev,“Highly directional spaser array for the red wavelength region,”Laser & Photonics Reviews 8,896–903 (2014).
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A. H. Schokker and A. F. Koenderink,“Lasing at the band edges of plasmonic lattices,”Physical Review B 90,155452 (2014).
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L.-B. Luo, C. Xie, X.-H. Wang, Y.-Q. Yu, C.-Y. Wu, H. Hu, K.-Y. Zhou, X.-W. Zhang, and J.-S. Jie,“Surface plasmon resonance enhanced highly efficient planar silicon solar cell,”Nano Energy 9,112–120 (2014).
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Y.-J. Lu, C.-Y. Wang, J. Kim, H.-Y. Chen, M.-Y. Lu, Y.-C. Chen, W.-H. Chang, L.-J. Chen, M. I. Stockman, C.-K. Shih, and et al.,“All-color plasmonic nanolasers with ultralow thresholds: autotuning mechanism for single-mode lasing,”Nano letters 14,4381–4388 (2014).
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C. L. Tan, S. J. Jang, Y. M. Song, K. Alameh, and Y. T. Lee,“Bimetallic non-alloyed nps for improving the broadband optical absorption of thin amorphous silicon substrates,”Nanoscale research letters 9,181 (2014).
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T. Zhang, G. Qian, Y.-Y. Wang, X.-J. Xue, F. Shan, R.-Z. Li, J.-Y. Wu, and X.-Y. Zhang,“Integrated optical gyroscope using active long-range surface plasmon-polariton waveguide resonator,”Scientific reports 4,3855 (2014).
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A. V. Baryshev and A. M. Merzlikin,“Plasmonic photonic-crystal slabs: visualization of the bloch surface wave resonance for an ultrasensitive, robust and reusable optical biosensor,”Crystals 4,498–508 (2014).
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A. Baryshev and A. Merzlikin,“Approach to visualization of and optical sensing by bloch surface waves in noble or base metal-based plasmonic photonic crystal slabs,”Applied optics 53,3142–3146 (2014).
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A. Shiohara, Y. Wang, and L. M. Liz-Marzán,“Recent approaches toward creation of hot spots for sers detection,”Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology C: Photochemistry Reviews 21,2–25 (2014).
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Y. Wu, C. Zhang, N. M. Estakhri, Y. Zhao, J. Kim, M. Zhang, X.-X. Liu, G. K. Pribil, A. Alù, C.-K. Shih, and et al.,“Intrinsic optical properties and enhanced plasmonic response of epitaxial silver,”Advanced Materials 26,6106–6110 (2014).
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B.-T. Chou, S.-D. Lin, B.-H. Huang, and T.-C. Lu,“Single-crystalline silver film grown on si (100) substrate by using electron-gun evaporation and thermal treatment,”Journal of Vacuum Science & Technology B, Nanotechnology and Microelectronics: Materials, Processing, Measurement, and Phenomena 32,031209 (2014).
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C. E. Sanders, C. Zhang, G. L. Kellogg, and C.-K. Shih,“Role of thermal processes in dewetting of epitaxial ag (111) film on si (111),”Surface Science 630,168–173 (2014).
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C. Zhang, D. Zhao, D. Gu, H. Kim, T. Ling, Y.-K. R. Wu, and L. J. Guo,“An ultrathin, smooth, and low-loss al-doped ag film and its application as a transparent electrode in organic photovoltaics,”Advanced Materials 26,5696–5701 (2014).
[Crossref] [PubMed]

S. Shen, C. Pan, S. Chang, and S. Lin,“Wet deposition process for thin-film transistors,”Materials and Manufacturing Processes 29,498–503 (2014).
[Crossref]

D. Rioux, S. Vallières, S. Besner, P. Muñoz, E. Mazur, and M. Meunier,“An analytic model for the dielectric function of au, ag, and their alloys,”Advanced Optical Materials 2,176–182 (2014).
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2013 (4)

R. Verre, M. Modreanu, O. Ualibek, D. Fox, K. Fleischer, C. Smith, H. Zhang, M. Pemble, J. McGilp, and I. Shvets,“General approach to the analysis of plasmonic structures using spectroscopic ellipsometry,”Physical Review B 87,235428 (2013).
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C. Valsecchi and A. G. Brolo,“Periodic metallic nanostructures as plasmonic chemical sensors,”Langmuir 29,5638–5649 (2013).
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W. Deng, F. Xie, H. T. Baltar, and E. M. Goldys,“Metal-enhanced fluorescence in the life sciences: here, now and beyond,”Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics 15,15695–15708 (2013).
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W. Zhou, M. Dridi, J. Y. Suh, C. H. Kim, D. T. Co, M. R. Wasielewski, G. C. Schatz, T. W. Odom, and et al.,“Lasing action in strongly coupled plasmonic nanocavity arrays,”Nature nanotechnology 8,506 (2013).
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2012 (6)

J. H. Park, P. Ambwani, M. Manno, N. C. Lindquist, P. Nagpal, S.-H. Oh, C. Leighton, and D. J. Norris,“Single-crystalline silver films for plasmonics,”Advanced Materials 24,3988–3992 (2012).
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H. Choo, M.-K. Kim, M. Staffaroni, T. J. Seok, J. Bokor, S. Cabrini, P. J. Schuck, M. C. Wu, and E. Yablonovitch,“Nanofocusing in a metal–insulator–metal gap plasmon waveguide with a three-dimensional linear taper,”Nature Photonics 6,838 (2012).
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A. G. Brolo,“Plasmonics for future biosensors,”Nature Photonics 6,709 (2012).
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Y.-J. Lu, J. Kim, H.-Y. Chen, C. Wu, N. Dabidian, C. E. Sanders, C.-Y. Wang, M.-Y. Lu, B.-H. Li, X. Qiu, and et al.,“Plasmonic nanolaser using epitaxially grown silver film,”science 337,450–453 (2012).
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B.-H. Li, C. E. Sanders, J. McIlhargey, F. Cheng, C. Gu, G. Zhang, K. Wu, J. Kim, S. H. Mousavi, A. B. Khanikaev, and et al.,“Contrast between surface plasmon polariton-mediated extraordinary optical transmission behavior in epitaxial and polycrystalline ag films in the mid-and far-infrared regimes,”Nano letters 12,6187–6191 (2012).
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J. T. Guske, J. Brown, A. Welsh, and S. Franzen,“Infrared surface plasmon resonance of azo-ag-azo sandwich thin films,”Optics Express 20,23215–23226 (2012).
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2011 (6)

M. Kariniemi, J. Niinistö, T. Hatanpää, M. Kemell, T. Sajavaara, M. Ritala, and M. Leskelä,“Plasma-enhanced atomic layer deposition of silver thin films,”Chemistry of Materials 23,2901–2907 (2011).
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A. Vinogradov, A. Ignatov, A. Merzlikin, S. Tretyakov, and C. Simovski,“Additional effective medium parameters for composite materials (excess surface currents),”Optics Express 19,6699–6704 (2011).
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G. V. Naik, J. Kim, and A. Boltasseva,“Oxides and nitrides as alternative plasmonic materials in the optical range,”Optical Materials Express 1,1090–1099 (2011).
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H. Y. Hong, J. S. Ha, S.-S. Lee, and J. H. Park,“Effective propagation of surface plasmon polaritons on graphene-protected single-crystalline silver films,”ACS applied materials & interfaces 9,5014–5022 (2017).
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Acs Photonics (2)

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Figures (11)

Fig. 1
Fig. 1 Main plasmonic effects based device types. a) Reprinted with permission from [45]. Copyright (2014) American Chemical Society. b) Reprinted by permission from [the Licensor]: [Nature] [Nature Nanotechnology] [46], [COPYRIGHT] (2013). c) Reprinted from [47] with permission from AAAS. d) Reprinted from [48], with the permission of AIP Publishing. e) Reprinted with permission from [49]. Copyright 2015Optical Society of America. f) Reprinted from [50], Copyright (2014), with permission from Elsevier. g) Pictures is used from [51], Attribution 4.0 International. h) Reprinted figure with permission from [52] Copyright (2014) by the American Physical Society. i) Reprinted with permission from [53]. Copyright (2017) American Chemical Society. j) Reprinted by permission from [the Licensor]: [Nature] [Nature Photonics][54], [COPYRIGHT] (2012). k) Reprinted with permission from [55]. Copyright (2018) American Chemical Society. l) Reprinted with permission from [56]. Copyright 2007 Optical Society of America.
Fig. 2
Fig. 2 a) Six decades of dielectric function measurements of Ag covering different spectral regions, with in part inconsistent results mostly notably in the visible/UV spectral range. Figure is reprinted with permission from [90] Copyright (2015) by the American Physical Society and is supplemented with new results. b) Measurements of the imaginary part of the dielectric function of silver from some well-known research articles in the plasmonic community
Fig. 3
Fig. 3 a, b) AFM images of single-crystalline and polycrystalline Ag films. Reprinted with permission from [102]. Copyright 2015 Optical Society of America. c, d) STM images of Ag films. Reprinted figure with permission from [103] Copyright (2009) by the American Physical Society.
Fig. 4
Fig. 4 a,b) EBSD images of polycrystalline silver films with different grain sizes c-f) XRD Structural characterization of a 35-nm Si (111) / Ag (111) film [104].
Fig. 5
Fig. 5 TEM micrograph of Ag thin film on Si a) Reprinted with permission from [99]. Copyright (2017) American Chemical Society. b) Reprinted with permission from [36]. Copyright [2014], American Vacuum Society. c)EDS mapping of Ag thin film on Si substrate
Fig. 6
Fig. 6 a, b) Real and imaginary part of dielectric permittivity of Ag thin film energy dependence extracted from SE measurements [104] c) Schematic of the propagation distance setup d) Optical microscopy of SPP: optical image of the Ag film surface with nanostructures created by a focused-ion-beam lithography and optical image of the Ag film surface when SPP is excited by a laser radiation. Figures 6(c) and 6(d) are reprinted with permission from [58]. Copyright2018 Optical Society of America.
Fig. 7
Fig. 7 SEM images of possible realizations of the 100 nm-thick silver films and structural features at their nanostructuring by the e-beam lithography: (a) for polycrystalline, (b) PCBG [42] (c) single-crystalline silver films (d) Zero-order transmission spectra of these films
Fig. 8
Fig. 8 a, b) Silver films dewetting substrates SEM images. Figure 6(b) is used from [131], Attribution 4.0 International. c) AFM image of a silver film with pinholes on a mica substrate. Reprinted with permission from [130]. Copyright (2017) American Chemical Society.
Fig. 9
Fig. 9 1x1 μm2 bird-view AFM images of the Ag films: (a) as-grown, (b) RTA at 340 C. Reprinted with permission from [36]. Copyright [2014], American Vacuum Society. (c) 2.5x2.5 μm2 bird-view AFM images of the SCULL Ag films. Reprinted with permission from [58]. Copyright 2018 Optical Society of America.
Fig. 10
Fig. 10 Comparison between a Ag layer with (b) and without (a) a Ge wetting layer. Reprinted with permission from [133]. Copyright 2010 Optical Society of America. AFM image of Ag layer with (c) and without (d) a Ge wetting layer. Reprinted with permission from [132]. Copyright (2008) American Chemical Society.
Fig. 11
Fig. 11 (a, b) SEM micrographs of plasma-enhanced spatial-ALD Ag films deposited for 2250 cycles (30 nm) at 120 °C, grown on a plasma pre-treated 80 nm Mo seed layer. (c, d) Representation of the dielectric-function data for Ag: deposited for 2250 cycles (30 nm). Figures 11(a)11(d) republished with permission of [Electrochemical Society], from [141] permission conveyed through Copyright Clearance Center, Inc. Giant colloidal silver single crystals SEM images: (e) figure is used from [91], Attribution 4.0 International (f) Adapted with permission from [143]. Copyright (2016) American Chemical Society. (g) The predicted propagation length using the JC Ag data calculated by the eigenmode method for an air/5 nm-Al2O3/Ag planar structure, and the error bars are from the JC data. Reprinted with permission from [143]. Copyright (2016) American Chemical Society.

Tables (3)

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Table 1 Frontier plasmonic applications versus thin film requirements

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Table 2 Characterization techniques summary and the silver "dream" plasmonic film

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Table 3 60 year history of silver thin film deposition

Equations (1)

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r p / r s = t a n Ψ e i δ

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