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New Materials for Photonics in the Mid-Infrared: From Lasers and Detectors to Plasmonics and Metamaterials


Significant opportunities exist in the mid-infrared region of the electromagnetic spectrum; while it is rich in vibrational absorption bands of gaseous chemicals and atmospheric transmission windows, devices remain underdeveloped when compared with their counterparts in the visible and near-infrared.

We describe our progress on mid-infrared diode lasers and novel avalanche photodetector designs, potentially sensitive down to single photon levels. Both are compelling building blocks for future sensing/imaging systems, as are alternative plasmonic materials for localizing and manipulating light at subwavelength scales. Rather than metals, we focus our attention on crystalline semimetals and doped-semiconductors, as their unique optical properties can be continuously tuned with composition and doping, respectively, yielding a new class of designer plasmonic materials. Moreover, these crystalline ‘metals’ can offer greatly reduced optical losses, as well as the tantalizing prospect of seamless integration of plasmonic and metamaterial functionality with optically-active semiconductors. We anticipate that these capabilities will enable new paradigms in nanophotonic device design and functionality.