Conductive oxide thin films: Model systems for understanding and controlling surface plasmon resonance

Mark D. Losego, Alina Y. Efremenko, Crissy L. Rhodes, Marta G. Cerruti, Stefan Franzen, Jon Paul Maria

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

94 Scopus citations


Degeneratively doped conductive oxides represent a unique host for exploring the inter-relationship between the properties of charge carriers and their collective plasmonic response. These materials often lack interband transitions that obfuscate interpretation of spectral response in elemental metals, and unlike metals, the electronic transport properties of conductive oxides are easily tunable. This work explores the process-structure-property relationships that regulate surface plasmon resonance (SPR) in sputter deposited indium tin oxide (ITO) thin films. Film deposition conditions are used to regulate film microstructure and tune the electronic mobility to between 7 and 40 cm2 V-1 s-1. Postdeposition annealing in low oxygen partial pressure atmospheres is used to engineer the ITO defect equilibrium and modulate carrier concentrations to between 1020 and 1021 cm-3. These electronic transport properties are modulated with near independence enabling straightforward interpretation of their influence on the SPR response observed in the infrared reflectivity spectrum. Higher electronic mobilities favor narrower surface plasmon absorption bands, while higher carrier concentrations favor higher absorption band frequencies. A simple free electron model, having only electronic carrier density and electronic mobility as variables, can be used to describe ITO's dielectric response. Calculations that combine this dielectric function and the Fresnel equations provide simulated reflectivity spectra that match experimental data with remarkable accuracy. Because these spectra use no fitting parameters and are calculated with well-studied material properties, it opens the opportunity for future design of plasmonic response in advanced material systems including degeneratively doped semiconductors, silicides, and nitrides.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number024903
JournalJournal of Applied Physics
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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