MEMS for tunable photonic metamaterial applications
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Photonic metamaterials are materials whose optical properties are derived from artificially-structured sub-wavelength unit cells, rather than from the bulk properties of the constituent materials. Examples of metamaterials include plasmonic materials, negative index materials, and electromagnetic cloaks. While advances in simulation tools and nanofabrication methods have allowed this field to grow over the past several decades, many challenges still exist. This thesis addresses two of these challenges: fabrication of photonic metamaterials with tunable responses and high-throughput nanofabrication methods for these materials. The design, fabrication, and optical characterization of a microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) tunable plasmonic spectrometer are presented. An array of holes in a gold film, with plasmon resonance in the mid-infrared, is suspended above a gold reflector, forming a Fabry-Perot interferometer of tunable length. The spectra exhibit the convolution of extraordinary optical transmission through the holes and Fabry-Perot resonances. Using MEMS, the interferometer length is modulated from 1.7 μm to 21.67 μm , thereby tuning the free spectral range from about 2900 wavenumbers to 230.7 wavenumbers and shifting the reflection minima and maxima across the infrared. Due to its broad spectral tunability in the fingerprint region of the mid-infrared, this device shows promise as a tunable biological sensing device. To address the issue of high-throughput, high-resolution fabrication of optical metamaterials, atomic calligraphy, a MEMS-based dynamic stencil lithography technique for resist-free fabrication of photonic metamaterials on unconventional substrates, has been developed. The MEMS consists of a moveable stencil, which can be actuated with nanometer precision using electrostatic comb drive actuators. A fabrication method and flip chip method have been developed, enabling evaporation of metals through the device handle for fabrication on an external substrate. While the MEMS can be used to fabricate over areas of approximately 100 square μm, a piezoelectric step-and repeat system enables fabrication over cm length scales. Thus, this technique leverages the precision inherent to MEMS actuation, while enhancing nanofabrication thoughput. Fabricating metamaterials on new substrates will enable novel and tunable metamaterials. For example, by fabricating unit cells on a periodic auxetic mechanical scaffold, the optical properties can be tuned by straining the mechanical scaffold.