JOURNAL ARTICLE

Light coupling and enhanced backscattering in layered plasmonic nanocomposites

Olivier Deparis, Martynas Beresna, C├ędric Vandenbem, Peter G Kazansky
Optics Express 2011 January 17, 19 (2): 1335-43
21263674
Peculiar enhanced backscattering of light as well as selective vapor sensing were recently observed in a layered plasmonic nanocomposite which consisted of gold nanospheres randomly distributed in a sol-gel glass thin film on top of a soda-lime glass substrate, including a buried leaky waveguide. In order to understand the underlying physical mechanisms, we performed three-dimensional transfer-matrix numerical simulations and calculated the reflectance in both backward and specular directions as functions of the incidence angle. First, assuming a layered periodic particle arrangement, we confirmed that backscattering took place at grazing incidence if the spatial period in the layers was chosen within an optimal range, in agreement with theoretical predictions. Then, using a pseudo-random particle arrangement to describe the actual nanocomposite, we revealed that strong backscattering could nevertheless persist for specific particle distributions, in spite of their randomness. This behavior was tentatively explained by putting backscattering in relation with the particle interdistance statistics. Finally, we showed that backscattered reflectance was much more sensitive than specular reflectance to the adsorption of water vapor either on the surface or inside the likely porous structure of the glass host.

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