In the last few years, the perfect absorption of light has become an important research topic due to its dramatic impact in photovoltaics, photodetectors, color filters and thermal emitters. While broadband optical absorption is relatively easy to achieve using bulky devices, today there is a strong need and interest in achieving the same effects by employing nanometric structures that are compatible with modern nanophotonic components. In this paper, we propose a general procedure to design broadband nanometer-scale absorbers working in the optical spectrum. The proposed devices, which can be considered an extension to optics of microwave circuit-analog absorbers, consist of several layers containing arrays of elongated nanoparticles, whose dimensions are engineered to control both the absorption level and the operational bandwidth. By combining a surface-impedance homogenization and an equivalent transmission-line formalism, we define a general analytical procedure that can be employed to achieve a final working design. As a relevant example, we show that the proposed approach allows designing an optical absorber exhibiting a 20% fractional bandwidth on a thickness of λ
/4 at the central frequency of operation. Full-wave results confirming the effectiveness of the analytical findings, as well as some considerations about the experimental realization of the proposed devices are provided.
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