Date of Award

Summer 2009

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Electrical & Computer Engineering

Committee Director

Sacharia Albin

Committee Director

Mikhail A. Noginov

Committee Member

Min Song

Committee Member

Mounir Laroussi

Committee Member

Carl E. Bonner


Surface plasmon polaritons (SPPs) have become in recent years an important research topic because of their interesting, physics and exciting potential applications, ranging from sensing and biomedicine to nanoscopic imaging and information technology. However, many applications of surface plasmon polaritons are hindered by one common cause—absorption loss in metal.

Over the years, numerous proposals have been made on how to conquer the plasmon loss. In this dissertation, (1) the known solutions to the loss problem by adding optical gain have been reviewed; (2) the properties of surface plasmon polaritons are studied theoretically, and the solution of the controversy regarding the direction of the k vector of a wave with a strong evanescent component in an active medium has been developed; (3) the propagation of surface plasmon polaritons without gain has been studied experimentally, and it is demonstrated that an addition of highly concentrated rhodamine 6G chloride dye to the PMMA film adjacent to a silver film can cause 30% elongation of the propagation length of surface plasmon polaritons; (4) the propagation of SPPs with optical gain has been studied experimentally and compared to the theoretical predictions: the level of gain achieved in our experiments (≈ 420 cm−1 at λ=594 nm) was, in principle, sufficient to compensate the propagation loss of surface plasmon polaritons in high-quality silver films; and (5) the stimulated emission of surface plasmon polaritons characterized by a distinct threshold in the input-output dependence and narrowing of the emission spectrum has been demonstrated.

The realized compensation of the metallic absorption loss by gain and the observed stimulated emission of surface plasmon polaritons pave the road to a broad range of applications of metamaterials and nanoplasmonic devices.