The optical properties of an ultrathin discontinuous gold film in different dielectric surroundings are investigated experimentally by measuring the polarization-dependent wavelength shifts and amplitudes of the cladding mode resonances of a tilted fiber Bragg grating. The gold film was prepared by electron-beam evaporation and had an average thickness of 5.5 nm ( ± 1 nm). Scanning electron imaging was used to determine that the film is actually formed of individual particles with average lateral dimensions of 28 nm ( ± 8 nm). The complex refractive indices of the equivalent uniform film in air at a wavelength of 1570 nm were calculated from the measurements to be 4.84-i0.74 and 3.97-i0.85 for TM and TE polarizations respectively (compared to the value for bulk gold: 0.54-i10.9). Additionally, changes in the birefringence and dichroism of the films were measured as a function of the surrounding medium, in air, water and a saturated NaCl (salt) solution. These results show that the film has stronger dielectric behavior for TM light than for TE, a trend that increases with increasing surrounding index. Finally, the experimental results are compared to predictions from two widely used effective medium approximations, the generalized Maxwell-Garnett and Bruggeman theories for gold particles in a surrounding matrix. It is found that both of these methods fail to predict the observed behavior for the film considered.
Optics Express
Department of Electronics

Zhou, W, Barry, S.T, Albert, J, & D.J. Mandia (David J.). (2014). Anisotropic effective permittivity of an ultrathin gold coating on optical fiber in air, water and saline solutions. Optics Express, 22(26), 31665–31676. doi:10.1364/OE.22.031665