Charge accumulation resulting in metallization of II–VI semiconductor (ZnX X = O, S, Se) films neighboring polar liquid crystal molecules and their surface plasmonic response in the visible region †
The surfaces of some IIB–VI semiconductors (ZnX, X = O, S, Se) are metallized by neighboring highly polar and atomically vertically aligned (VA) liquid crystal (LC) molecules. Owing to polar catastrophe, the charge carriers swarm in an extremely thin layer and the density can achieve 4.86 × 1028 m−3 close to the LC layer, which can be regarded as a 2-dimensional electron gas (2DEG). Using density functional theory (DFT), it was found that the dielectric functions of the modified layer become negative in the visible region. This indicates the semiconductor/LC platform is an ideal active plasmonic candidate, apart from the lossy metal constituents. Experimentally, after mediation with phase gratings written in the LC system, surface plasmon polaritons (SPPs) can be excited at the semiconductor surface and localized charges are gathered in an adjacent LC layer. With the help of the enhanced static electric field from the metallic surface, significantly more 2D diffraction orders in many rows and columns and a huge energy transfer between the laser beams and SPPs was observed, which is consistent with the metallization results and the bidirectional coupling between the SPPs and incident lights. The generalization of the II–VI semiconductors means the system has great promise for use in practical applications owing to the ultra-low loss. The novel insights regarding this combination with liquid crystals will be beneficial for real-time holographic displays and the study of tunable epsilon near zero points.