The unique light-matter interaction in metamaterials, a type of artificial medium in which the geometrical features of subunits dominate their optical responses, have been utilized to achieve exotic material properties that are rare or nonexistent in natural materials. Furthermore, to extend their behaviors, active materials have been introduced into metamaterial systems to advance tunability, switchability and nonlinearity. Nevertheless, practical examples of versatile photonic metamaterials remain exceedingly rare for two main reasons. On the one hand, in sharp contrast to the broad material options available at lower frequencies, it is less common to find active media in the optical regime that can provide pronounced dielectric property changes under external stimuli, such as electric and magnetic fields. Vanadium dioxide (VO2), offering a large refractive index variation over a broad frequency range due to its near room temperature insulator-to-metal transition (IMT), has been favored in recent studies on tunable metamaterials. On the other hand, it turns out that regulating responses of hybrid metamaterials to external forces in an integrated manner is not a straightforward task. Recently, metamaterial-enabled devices (i.e., metadevices) with ‘self-sufficient’ or ‘self-contained’ electrical and optical properties have enabled complex functionalities. Here, we present a design methodology along with the associated experimental validation of a VO2 thin film integrated optical metamaterial absorber as a hybrid photonic platform for electrically driven multifunctional control, including reflectance switching, a rewritable memory process and manageable localized camouflage. The nanoengineered topologically continuous metal structure simultaneously supports the optical resonance and electrical functionality that actuates the phase transition in VO2 through the process of Joule heating. This work provides a universal approach to creating self-sufficient and highly-versatile nanophotonic systems.
Nanostructured metals have utilized the strong spatial confinement of surface plasmon polaritons to harness enormous energy densities on their surfaces, and have demonstrated vast potential for the future of nano-optical systems and devices. While the spectral location of the plasmonic resonance can be tailored with relative ease, the control over the spectral linewidth associated with loss represents a more daunting task. In general, plasmonic resonances typically exhibit a spectral linewidth of ~50 nm, limited largely by the combined damping and radiative loss in nanometallic structures. Here, we present one of the sharpest resonance features demonstrated by any plasmonic system reported to date by introducing dark plasmonic modes in diatomic gratings. Each duty cycle of the diatomic grating consists of two nonequivalent metallic stripes, and the asymmetric design leads to the excitation of a dark plasmonic mode under normal incidence. The dark plasmonic mode in our structure, occurring at a prescribed wavelength of ~840 nm, features an ultra-narrow spectral linewidth of about 5 nm, which represents a small fraction of the value commonly seen in typical plasmonic resonances. We leverage the dark plasmonic mode in the metallic nanostructure and demonstrate a resonance enhanced plasmoelectric effect, where the photon-induced electric potential generated in the grating is shown to follow the resonance behavior in the spectral domain. The light concentrating ability of dark plasmonic modes in conjunction with the ultra-sharp resonance feature at a relatively low loss offers a novel route to enhanced light-matter interactions with high spectral sensitivity for diverse applications.