Thermal deformation of gold nanostructures and its influence on surface plasmon resonance sensing
Plasmonic nanostructures have been recently used in elevated temperature applications such as sensing of high-energy systems and localized heat generation for heat-assisted magnetic recording, thermophotovaltaics, and photothermal therapy. However, plasmonic nanostructures exposed to elevated temperature often experience permanent deformations, which could significantly degrade performance of the plasmonic devices. Therefore, understanding of thermal deformation of plasmonic nanostructures and its influence on the device performance is essential to the development of robust high-performance plasmonic devices. Here, we report thermal deformation of lithographic planar gold nanopatch and nanohole arrays and its influence on surface plasmon resonance sensing. The gold nanostructures are fabricated on a silicon substrate and on the end-face of an optical fiber using electron-beam lithography and focused-ion-beam lithography, respectively. The fabricated gold nanostructures are exposed to cyclic thermal loading in the range of 25 °C to 500 °C. Through experimental and numerical studies, we investigate (i) thermal deformation modes of the gold nanostructures, (ii) influence of the gold nanostructure geometry on the degree and mechanism of the thermal deformation, and (iii) influence of the thermal deformation on performance of surface plasmon resonance sensing. The obtained understanding from these studies is expected to help guide the development of robust high-performance plasmonic sensors for monitoring in elevated temperature environments. Although the current work is focused on gold nanostructures, it can be extended to provide useful insights on thermal deformation of refractory plasmonic nanostructures at extreme temperature.