Silver nanocube aggregation gradient materials in search for total internal reflection with high phase sensitivity†
We fabricated monolayer coatings of a silver nanocube aggregation to create a step-wise optical strip by applying different surface pressures during slow Langmuir–Blodgett deposition. The varying amount of randomly distributed nanocube aggregates with different surface coverages in gradient manner due to changes in surface pressure allows for continuous control of the polarization sensitive absorption of the incoming light over a broad optical spectrum. Optical characterization under total internal reflection conditions combined with electromagnetic simulations reveal that the broadband light absorption depends on the relative orientation of the nanoparticles to the polarization of the incoming light. By using computer simulations, we found that the electric field vector of the s-polarized light interacts with the different types of silver nanocube aggregations to excite different plasmonic resonances. The s-polarization shows dramatic changes of the plasmonic resonances at different angles of incidence (shift of 64 nm per 10° angle of incidence). With a low surface nanocube coverage (from 5% to 20%), we observed a polarization-selective high absorption of 80% (with an average 75%) of the incoming light over a broad optical range in the visible region from 400 nm to 700 nm. This large-area gradient material with location-dependent optical properties can be of particular interest for broadband light absorption, phase-sensitive sensors, and imaging.