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DNA does design: 3D plasmonic photonic crystals are the first devices prepared by DNA-guided colloidal crystallization

Posted January 15, 2015

As biotechnology and nanotechnology continue to merge, DNA-programmable methods have emerged as a way to provide unprecedented control over the assembly of nanoparticles into complex structures, including customizable periodic structures known as superlattices that allow fine tuning the interaction between light and highly organized collections of particles. Lattice structures have historically been two-dimensional because fabricating three-dimensional DNA lattices has been too difficult, while three-dimensional dielectric photonic crystals have well-established enhanced light–matter interactions.

A polaritonic photonic crystal made by DNA-programmable assembly

A polaritonic photonic crystal made by DNA-programmable assembly. (A) Three-dimensional illustration of a plasmonic PPC, in the shape of a rhombic dodecahedron, assembled from DNA-modified gold nanoparticles. Red arrows indicate light rays normal to the underlying substrate, impinging on and backscattering through a top facet of the crystal (FPMs). The blue ones represent light rays entering through the slanted side facets and leaving the PPC through the opposite side, not contributing to the FPMs (Fig. S2). The top right inset shows the top view of the crystal with two sets of arrows defining two polarization bases at the top and side facets. The bottom right inset shows an SEM image of a representative single crystal corresponding to the orientation of the top right inset. (Scale bar, 1 μm.) (B) A 2D scheme showing the geometric optics approximation of backscattering consistent with the explanation in A. The hexagon outline is a vertical cross-section through the gray area in the top right inset of A parallel to its long edge. The box enclosed by a dashed line depicts the interaction between localized surface plasmons and photonic modes (red arrows; FPMs) with a typical near-field profile around gold nanoparticles. The contribution of backscattering through the side facets (blue arrows) to FPMs is negligible. (C) Scheme of plasmon polariton formation. The localized surface plasmons (yellow bar) strongly couple to the photonic modes (red bars; FPMs). Credit: Park DJ, et al. (2014) Plasmonic photonic crystals realized through DNA-programmable assembly. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA Published online before print on December 29, 2014.


However, the dearth of synthetic means of creating plasmonic crystals (those that exploit surface plasmons produced from the interaction of light with metal-dielectric materials) based on arrays of nanoparticles has prevented them from being experimentally studied. At the same time, it has been suggested that polaritonic photonic crystals (PPCs) – plasmonic counterparts of photonic crystals – can prohibit light propagation and open a photonic band gap (also known as a polariton gap) by strong coupling between surface plasmons and photonic modes if the crystal is in a deep subwavelength size regime. (Polaritons are quasiparticles resulting from strong coupling of electromagnetic waves with an electric or magnetic dipole-carrying excitation.)

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