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Physicists shed light on the properties of plasmons in nanostructured graphene

A group of scientists from Russia and Austria demonstrated that the interaction between plasmon oscillations in nanostructured graphene causes a significant shift in the far IR light absorption spectrum. Their findings will enable modeling plasmon spectra and using the modeling results in optoelectronics.

The results of the study were published in ACS Photonics.

Collective excitations of electrons in solids, plasmons were demonstrated to change their properties under the influence of the electric field in low-dimensional materials, such as graphene, thus breaking new ground for a plethora of optoelectronic applications, including sensors, detectors, radiation sources and many others.

Plasmon spectra in isolated graphene nanostrips is a thoroughly researched area, however for the real optoelectronic devices to operate efficiently, the biggest possible number of nanostrips should be applied per unit length so that graphene covers as much of the substrate area as possible. Until recently, the optical spectra of such systems were described in approximate manner and regarded as an assembly of non-interacting plasmons within an individual nanostrip ‒ an approach that calculates the dominant oscillation mode frequency in an isolated nanostrip with an error of over 10% and is unable to capture subtler effects in graphene, such as radiation broadening of the absorption spectra.

The group of scientists that included physicists from Skoltech who led the study and planned both its experimental and theoretical parts, and researchers from the Vienna University of Technology (Austria) who actually conducted all the experiments, discovered that the electrical interactions between plasmons result in a substantial shift in the far IR absorption spectrum with reference to the plasmon spectrum in an isolated nanostrip.

The study also revealed a significant broadening of the nanostrips’ absorption spectra resulting from back re-radiation of the absorbed energy. If properly taken into account, this effect ensures very high accuracy in determining the parameters of the nanostrip graphene, such as the Fermi level and electron collision frequency. The absorption spectrum analysis method put forward by the authors can be used to study the subtle factors that influence the conductivity of graphene and other two-dimensional materials.

The graphene samples used in the study were supplied by Graphenea (Spain).

“Due to the interactions between plasmons, the graphene absorption spectra cover the far IR spectrum (photon energies ranging from 10 meV to 200 meV), which matches the oscillation spectra of most biological molecules. This opens up new vistas for designing and manufacturing graphene-based biosensors,” says the study lead and Skoltech employee Vyacheslav Semenenko.


The Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology (Skoltech) is a private graduate research university. Established in 2011 in collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Skoltech cultivates a new generation of researchers and entrepreneurs, promotes advanced scientific knowledge and fosters innovative technology to address critical issues facing Russia and the world in the third millennium. Skoltech applies the best Russian and international research and educational practices, with particular emphasis on entrepreneurship and innovation.

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