Chiral plasmonic metamaterials have been proposed as a promising platform for optoelectronic devices with exotic applications, such as negative index of refraction materials and superlenses that can break the diffraction limit. Chiral metamaterials have unit cells that lack mirror symmetry and inversion centers, and exhibit asymmetries in response to circularly polarized light that are orders of magnitude greater than the ones observed from naturally occurring chiral molecules. In the far-field, these asymmetries are manifested in the circular dichroism (CD) signal that quantifies the difference in absorption of left and right handed light. Despite the extensive literature on the far-field optical response of chiral metamaterials, our understanding of the chiral electromagnetic light-matter interactions remains limited. To develop design principles for chiral metamaterials, it is important to characterize and tune the optical chirality C of the electromagnetic fields in the vicinity of the nanostructures in the chiral unit cell, and elucidate the complex relationship between the near- and far-field optical response of chiral systems.
Here, we used Finite-Difference Time-Domain calculations to simulate the optical response of a stacked gold L-shape resonator system. In this system, the sign of the CD spectrum can be controllably changed through lateral shifts in the relative position of two gold L- resonators, which tunes the interaction strength. These small structural reconfigurations change the energetic ordering of the hybridized modes and alter the CD response of the system without changing its handedness. We examined the sensitivity of the system to small structural perturbations, and demonstrated that the CD spectrum can abruptly reverse under small (less than 1 nm) reconfigurations of the L-resonators. The abrupt change in the far-field response reflects the interesting evolution of the near-fields under small reconfigurations of the system.
Calculations revealed that superchiral fields around the plasmonic structures change their magnitude and localization based on the position of the upper L-resonator relative to the bottom one. The optical chirality, and volume of the superchiral fields are much larger for the mode with enhanced extinction cross section. In this way, we demonstrated that small structural modification abruptly change not only the cross section but also the chiral near field response of the L-shape system under illumination with circularly polarized light.
The ability of our chiral L-shape assembly to abruptly change the far-field chiroptical response makes it ideal for experimentally fabricating a fast switchable chiral platform with dynamically tunable CD response. Meanwhile, the tunable chiral local electromagnetic fields could be utilized to examine how the change in the chiral interactions between the nanostructures translates into a change in the far field response of chiral systems.