Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Topics in theoretical and computational nanoscience: From controlling light at the nanoscale to calculating quantum effects with classical electrodynamics
by McMahon, Jeffrey Michael, Ph.D., Northwestern University, 2010, 318; 3402419
Abstract (Summary)

Interest in structures with nanometer-length features has significantly increased as experimental techniques for their fabrication have become possible. The study of phenomena in this area is termed nanoscience, and is a research focus of chemists, pure and applied physicists, electrical engineers, and others. The reason for such focus is the wide range of novel effects that exist at this scale, both of fundamental and practical interest, which often arise from the interaction between metallic nanostructures and light, and range from large electromagnetic field enhancements to extraordinary optical transmission of light through arrays of subwavelength holes.

For the theoretician and computational scientist, this area has been, and continues to be rich with interesting problems to explore and phenomena to explain. For the most part, the phenomena can be explained using classical electrodynamics. However, recent experimental techniques allow individual nanostructures to be studied, questioning the accuracy of such methods at this most detailed level. Moreover, for structures with dimensions of just a few nanometers, the applicability of such methods at all needs to be questioned. Even if a system contains many hundreds of atoms or more so that a continuum level of description is adequate, the optical (and other) properties can be difficult to correctly calculate due to the importance of quantum effects. Thus, the theoretician is in trouble, and the accurate descriptions of such structures remain largely unknown.

This dissertation is aimed at addressing some of the most fundamental and outstanding questions in nanoscience from a theoretical and computational perspective, specifically: (i) At the single nanoparticle level, how well do experiment and classical electrodynamics agree? (ii) What is the detailed relationship between optical response and nanoparticle morphology, composition, and environment? (iii) Does an optimal nanostructure exist for generating large electromagnetic field enhancements, and is there a fundamental limit to this? (iv) Can nanostructures be used to control light, such as confining it, or causing fundamentally different scattering phenomena to interact, such as electromagnetic surface modes and diffraction effects? (v) Is it possible to calculate quantum effects using classical electrodynamics, and if so, how do they affect optical properties?

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Schatz, George C.
Commitee: Odom, Teri W., Weitz, Eric
School: Northwestern University
Department: Chemistry
School Location: United States -- Illinois
Source: DAI-B 71/05, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Nanoscience, Electromagnetics, Condensed matter physics, Optics
Keywords: Electrodynamics, FDTD, Hole array, Nanoscience, Nanostructures, Nonlocal dielectric, Quantum effects, SERS
Publication Number: 3402419
ISBN: 978-1-109-74528-3
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