Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Engineering


Health, Engineering and Science

First Advisor

Professor Kamal Alameh


Surface Plasmon Polaritons (SPPs) are quantized charge density oscillations that occur when a photon couples to the free electron gas of the metal at the interface between a metal and a dielectric. The extraordinary properties of SPP allow for sub-diffraction limit waveguiding and localized field enhancement. The emerging field of surface plasmonics has applied SPP coupling to a number of new and interesting applications, such as: Surface Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (SERS), super lenses, nano-scale optical circuits, optical filters and SPP enhanced photodetectors. In the past decade, there have been several experimental and theoretical research and development activities which reported on the extraordinary optical transmission through subwavelength metallic apertures as well as through periodic metal grating structures. The use of SPP for light absorption enhancement using sub-wavelength metal gratings promises an increased enhancement in light collection efficiency of photovoltaic devices. A subwavelength plasmonic nanostructure grating interacts strongly with the incident light and potentially traps it inside the subsurface region of semiconductor substrates. Among all photodetectors, the Metal-Semiconductor-Metal photodetector (MSM-PD) is the simplest structure. Moreover, due to the lateral geometry of the MSM-PDs, the capacitance of an MSM-PD is much lower than capacitances of p-i-n PDs and Avalanche PDs, making its response time in the range of a few tens of picoseconds for nano-scale spacing between the electrode fingers. These features of simple fabrication and high speed make MSM-PDs attractive and essential devices for high-speed optical interconnects, highsensitivity optical samplers and ultra-wide bandwidth optoelectronic integrated circuits (OEIC) receivers for fibre optic communication systems. However, while MSM-PDs offer faster response than their p-i-n PD and avalanche PD counterparts, their most significant drawbacks are the high reflectivity of the metal fingers and the very-low light transmission through the spacing between the fingers, leading to very low photodetector sensitivity. This thesis proposes, designs and demonstrates the concept of a novel plasmonicbased MSM-PD employing metal nano-gratings and sub-wavelength slits. Various metal nano-gratings are designed on top of the gold fingers of an MSM-PD based on gallium arsenide (GaAs) for an operating wavelength of 830 nm to create SPP-enhanced MSM-PDs. Both the geometry and light absorption near the designed wavelength are theoretically and experimentally investigated.

Finite Difference Time Domain (FDTD) simulation is used to simulate and design plasmonic MSM-PDs devices for maximal field enhancement. The simulation results show more than 10 times enhancement for the plasmonic nano-grating MSM-PD compared with the device without the metal nano-gratings, for 100 nm slit difference, due to the improved optical signal propagation through the nano-gratings. A dual beam FIB/ SEM is employed for the fabrication of metal nano-gratings and the sub-wavelength slit of the MSM-PD. Experimentally, we demonstrate the principle of plasmonics-based MSM-PDs and attain a measured photodetector responsivity that is 4 times better than that of conventional single-slit MSM-PDs. We observe reduction in the responsivity as the bias voltage increases and the input light polarization varies. Our experimental results demonstrate the feasibility of developing high-responsivity, low bias-voltage high-speed MSM-PDs. A novel multi-finger plasmonics-based GaAs MSM-PD structure is optimized geometrically using the 2-D FDTD method and developed, leading to more than 7 times enhancement in photocurrent in comparison with the conventional MSM-PD of similar dimensions at a bias voltage as low as 0.3V. This enhancement is attributed to the coupling of SPPs with the incident light through the nano-structured metal fingers. Moreover, the plasmonic-based MSM-PD shows high sensitivity to the incident light polarization states. Combining the polarization sensitivity and the wavelength selective guiding nature of the nano-gratings, the plasmonic MSM-PD can be used to design high-sensitivity polarization diversity receivers, integrating polarization splitters and polarization CMOS imaging sensors. We also propose and demonstrate a plasmonic-based GaAs balanced metalsemiconductor- metal photodetector (B-MSM-PD) structure and we measure a common mode rejection ratio (CMRR) value less than 25 dB at 830nm wavelength. This efficient CMRR value makes our B-MSM-PD structure suitable for ultra-high-speed optical telecommunication systems. In addition, this work paves the way for the monolithic integration of B-MSM-PDs into large scale semiconductor circuits. This thesis demonstrates several new opportunities for resonant plasmonic nanostructures able to enhance the responsivity of the MSM-PD. The presented concepts and insights hold great promise for new applications in integrated optics, photovoltaics, solidstate lighting and imaging below the diffraction limit. In Chapter 10 we conclude this thesis by summarizing and discussing some possible applications and future research directions based on SPP field concentration.