Dependence of plasmon polaritons on the thickness of indium tin oxide thin films

C. Rhodes, M. Cerruti, A. Efremenko, M. Losego, D. E. Aspnes, J. P. Maria, S. Franzen

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The evolution of polariton features with increasing thickness in p -polarized (TM) reflectance spectra of indium tin oxide (ITO) thin films deposited on BK7 glass reveals the nature of plasmons in conducting thin films without interference from band-to-band transitions or the tendency of very thin films to form islands, both of which are complicating factors with the noble metals Au and Ag. Although the dependence on energy, film thickness, and angle of incidence is complex, these features are accurately described by the three-phase (substrate/overlayer/ambient) Fresnel model using only the Drude free-electron representation for the dielectric function of the ITO film. For film thicknesses less than 80 nm the relevant excitation is a one-dimensional screened-bulk plasmon (SBP) that corresponds to charge transfer across the entire film. The associated SBP polariton (SBPP) occurs at the energy of the SBP and is relatively independent of the angle of incidence. For film thicknesses greater than 120 nm, the relevant excitation is the surface plasmons (SP). The associated surface plasmon polariton (SPP) exhibits the usual strong dependence of energy on the angle of incidence. For larger thicknesses this structure gradually weakens, in agreement with theory. No other collective excitations are observed. The optimum thicknesses for the SPP in ITO is 160 nm, whereas the SBPP is observed only when the film thickness is less than 70 nm. The SBPP exhibits many of the features that make the SPP attractive for both science and technology, but has not been observed previously. Our results show that ITO films, in particular, and conducting-metal-oxide films in general provide new opportunities for investigating plasmons in conductors and obtaining new insights into plasmons, plasmon polaritons, and related optical phenomena.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number093108
JournalJournal of Applied Physics
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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