Tailoring metal-dielectric nanocomposite materials with ultrashort laser pulses for dichroic color control†
Metal-dielectric nanocomposites are multiphase material systems containing nanostructures, whose size and arrangement determine the optical properties of the material, enabling the production of new materials with custom-designed response. In this paper, we exploit a femtosecond laser-based strategy to fabricate nanocomposites based on silver nanoparticles (Ag NPs) with tunable optical spectral response. We demonstrate how the spectral response, specifically color and dichroic response, is linked to Ag NPs growth and self-organization processes that are controlled locally by the choice of the laser irradiation parameters, such as scan speed and laser light polarization. When the scan speed increases, the Ag NPs are formed at larger depths below the film surface and give rise to the formation of embedded NPs gratings. As a result, the effective optical properties of the films are strongly modified enabling the display of a broad range of solid colors in the visible region. Furthermore, the choice of the laser light polarization allows to fabricate films either with iridescent or dichroic properties (linear polarization) or with non-diffractive and non-dichroic colors (circular polarization). Finally, the high spatial control over the transformed areas achieved with the laser processing, allows the building of hybrid nanostructures by means of interlacing structures with different optical responses. These results demonstrate the high potential of fs-laser technology to process Ag-based nanocomposites to fabricate coatings with a designed reflectivity, transmission, diffraction, as well as polarization anisotropy response. The Ag nanocomposites investigated in this work hold great promise for a broad range of applications especially for coloring, for enhanced visual effects, and for smart information encoding for security applications.
- This article is part of the themed collection: Recent Open Access Articles