J. Toudert, H. Fernandez, D. Babonneau, S. Camelio, T. Girardeau, J. Solis
Nanotechnology, 20 (2009) 475705 (7)
doi: 10.1088/0957-4484/20/47/475705

The linear and third-order nonlinear responses of tailored Si3N4/Ag/Si3N4 trilayers and (Si3N4/Ag)n/Si3N4 multilayers grown by alternating ion-beam sputtering have been studied by combining complementary characterization techniques such as transmission electron microscopy, spectroscopic ellipsometry and degenerate four-wave mixing. The linear optical response dominated by the surface plasmon resonance of Ag nanoparticles has been measured over the whole visible range while the third-order nonlinear susceptibility has been probed at the surface plasmon resonance wavelength. Due to the weak in-plane interaction between Ag nanoparticles, the linear and nonlinear optical responses of the Si3N4/Ag/Si3N4 trilayers are mainly influenced by the size and shape of the nanoparticles. A maximum value of 1.1 x 10(-7) esu has been found at 635 nm for the effective third-order nonlinear susceptibility of the trilayer with the highest amount of silver. The linear optical response of the (Si3N4/Ag)n/Si3N4 multilayers is shown to be dominated by the surface plasmon resonance of isolated layers of weakly interacting nanoparticles at wavelengths shorter than 600 nm whereas a contribution due to vertical interactions has been shown for higher wavelengths. Below the vertical percolation threshold, their nonlinear optical response at the surface plasmon resonance wavelength is similar to the one of an isolated assembly of nanoparticles, and the effective third-order nonlinear susceptibility is slightly increased by decreasing the thickness of the Si3N4 spacer.

Linear and third-order nonlinear optical responses of multilayered Ag:Si3N4 nanocomposites
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