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Materials 2014, 7(2), 727-741; doi:10.3390/ma7020727

Effective Optical Properties of Plasmonic Nanocomposites

1 Institute of Condensed Matter Theory and Optics, Abbe Center of Photonics, Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena, Max-Wien-Platz 1, 07743 Jena, Germany 2 Nanochemistry and Nanoengineering, Institute for Materials Science, Faculty of Engineering, Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel, Kaiserstrasse 2, 24143 Kiel, Germany 3 Chair for Multicomponent Materials, Institute for Materials Science, Faculty of Engineering, Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel, Kaiserstrasse 2, Kiel 24143, Germany 4 Institute of Polymer Research, Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht, Max-Planck-Str. 1, 21502 Geesthacht, Germany 5 Institute of Theoretical Solid State Physics, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Wolfgang-Gaede-Strasse 1, 76131 Karlsruhe, Germany
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 28 November 2013 / Revised: 13 January 2014 / Accepted: 21 January 2014 / Published: 27 January 2014
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nanocomposites of Polymers and Inorganic Particles 2013)
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Plasmonic nanocomposites find many applications, such as nanometric coatings in emerging fields, such as optotronics, photovoltaics or integrated optics. To make use of their ability to affect light propagation in an unprecedented manner, plasmonic nanocomposites should consist of densely packed metallic nanoparticles. This causes a major challenge for their theoretical description, since the reliable assignment of effective optical properties with established effective medium theories is no longer possible. Established theories, e.g., the Maxwell-Garnett formalism, are only applicable for strongly diluted nanocomposites. This effective description, however, is a prerequisite to consider plasmonic nanocomposites in the design of optical devices. Here, we mitigate this problem and use full wave optical simulations to assign effective properties to plasmonic nanocomposites with filling fractions close to the percolation threshold. We show that these effective properties can be used to properly predict the optical action of functional devices that contain nanocomposites in their design. With this contribution we pave the way to consider plasmonic nanocomposites comparably to ordinary materials in the design of optical elements.
Keywords: nanocomposite; plasmonics; metamaterials; homogenization nanocomposite; plasmonics; metamaterials; homogenization
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY) which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Etrich, C.; Fahr, S.; Hedayati, M.K.; Faupel, F.; Elbahri, M.; Rockstuhl, C. Effective Optical Properties of Plasmonic Nanocomposites. Materials 2014, 7, 727-741.

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