We present a theoretical analysis of planar plasmonic waveguides that support propagation of positive and negative index modes. Particular attention is given to the modes sustained by metal-insulator-metal (MIM), insulator-metal-insulator (IMI), and insulator-insulator-metal (IIM) geometries at visible and near-infrared frequencies. We find that all three plasmonic structures are characterized by negative indices over a finite range of visible frequencies, with figures of merit approaching 20. Moreover, using finite-difference time-domain simulations, we demonstrate that visible-wavelength light propagating from free space into these waveguides can exhibit negative refraction. Refractive index and figure-of-merit calculations are presented for Ag/GaP and Ag/Si3N4-based structures with waveguide core dimensions ranging from 5 to 50 nm and excitation wavelengths ranging from 350 nm to 850 nm. Our results provide the design criteria for realization of broadband, visible-frequency negative index materials and transformation-based optical elements for two-dimensional guided waves. These geometries can serve as basic elements of three-dimensional negative-index metamaterials.

Opt. Express
Photonic Materials

Dionne, J., Verhagen, E., Polman, A., & Atwater, H. (2008). Are negative index materials achievable with surface plasmon waveguides? A case study of three plasmonic geometries. Opt. Express, 16(23), 19001–19017. doi:10.1364/oe.16.019001