Stefan Mühlig, Alastair Cunningham, José Dintinger, Toralf Scharf, Thomas Bürgi, Falk Lederer, Carsten Rockstuhl
April 4, 2013
Nowadays for the sake of convenience most plasmonic nanostructures are fabricated by top-down nanofabrication technologies. This offers great degrees of freedom to tailor the geometry with unprecedented precision. However, it often causes disadvantages as well. The structures available are usually planar and periodically arranged. Therefore, bulk plasmonic structures are difficult to fabricate and the periodic arrangement causes undesired effects, e.g., strong spatial dispersion is observed in metamaterials. These limitations can be mitigated by relying on bottom-up nanofabrication technologies. There, self-assembly methods and techniques from the field of colloidal nanochemistry are used to build complex functional unit cells in solution from an ensemble of simple building blocks, i.e., in most cases plasmonic nanoparticles. Achievable structures are characterized by a high degree of nominal order only on a short-range scale. The precise spatial arrangement across larger dimensions is not possible in most cases; leading essentially to amorphous structures. Such self-assembled nanostructures require novel analytical means to describe their properties, innovative designs of functional elements that possess a desired near- and far-field response, and entail genuine nanofabrication and characterization techniques. Eventually, novel applications have to be perceived that are adapted to the specifics of the self-assembled nanostructures. This review shall document recent progress in this field of research. Emphasis is put on bottom-up amorphous metamaterials. We document the state-of-the-art but also critically assess the problems that have to be overcome.