Plasmonics to boost pyroelectric-based hyperspectral sensing

November 26, 2019 //By Julien Happich
hyperspectral sensors
Researchers from Duke University have designed frequency-tunable light-trapping plasmonics to speed up the response of pyroelectric-based sensors, in effect creating a light-weight and highly sensitive multispectral photodetector.

Commercial photodetectors have already been designed with pyroelectric materials before, but they haven't been able to focus on specific electromagnetic frequencies, and the thick layers of pyroelectric material needed to create enough of an electric signal have caused them to operate at very slow speeds, the researchers note. By combining them with state of the art plasmonics, the researchers have been able to make incredibly fast detectors that can also sense the frequency of the incoming light.


The multispectral photodetectors built from three layers.
The size and spacing of silver nanocubes on a thin layer of
gold dictates what frequency they absorb, causing them to
heat up. A thin layer of a aluminum nitride then converts the
heat to an electric signal, which is picked up and carried by
a layer of silicon semiconductor on bottom.
Credit: Jon Stewart, Duke University.

The plasmonic detectors consists of nano-sized silver cubes, whose distance from a gold base layer determines the frequency, the amount of light absorbed being tuned through the nanoparticles’ distribution. By precisely tailoring the nanoparticles’ sizes and spacings, the researchers can make the system respond to any electromagnetic frequency they want, from 660 to 2,000nm.


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