We report on theoretical analysis and experimental validation of the applicability of the effective medium approximation
to deeply subwavelength (period ⩽λ/30) all-dielectric multilayer structures. Following the theoretical prediction of the
anomalous breakdown of the effective medium approximation [H. H. Sheinfux et al., Phys. Rev. Lett. 113, 243901
(2014)] we thoroughly elaborate on regimes, when an actual multilayer stack exhibits significantly different properties
compared to its homogenized model. Our findings are fully confirmed in the first direct experimental demonstration of
the breakdown effect. Multilayer stacks are composed of alternating alumina and titania layers fabricated using atomic
layer deposition. For light incident on such multilayers at angles near the total internal reflection, we observe pronounced
differences in the reflectance spectra (up to 0.5) for structures with different layers ordering and different but still deeply
subwavelength thicknesses. Such big reflectance difference values resulted from the special geometrical configuration
with an additional resonator layer underneath the multilayers employed for the enhancement of the effect. Our results are
important for the development of new homogenization approaches for metamaterials, high-precision multilayer
ellipsometry methods and in a broad range of sensing applications.
Andrei V. Lavrinenko, Sergei V. Zhukovsky, Andrei Andryieuski, Osamu Takayama, Evgeniy Shkondin, Radu Malureanu, and Flemming Jensen, "Effective medium approximation for deeply subwavelength all-dielectric multilayers: when does it break down?," Proc. SPIE 9883, Metamaterials X, 988317 (Presented at SPIE Photonics Europe: April 06, 2016; Published: 18 April 2016); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2229220.
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