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.

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Journal Optics Express
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