Quantum effects and nonlocality in strongly coupled plasmonic nanowire dimers

Opt Express. 2013 Nov 4;21(22):27306-25. doi: 10.1364/oe.21.027306.


Using a fully quantum mechanical approach we study the optical response of a strongly coupled metallic nanowire dimer for variable separation widths of the junction between the nanowires. The translational invariance of the system allows to apply the time-dependent density functional theory (TDDFT) for nanowires of diameters up to 10 nm which is the largest size considered so far in quantum modeling of plasmonic dimers. By performing a detailed analysis of the optical extinction, induced charge densities, and near fields, we reveal the major nonlocal quantum effects determining the plasmonic modes and field enhancement in the system. These effects consist mainly of electron tunneling between the nanowires at small junction widths and dynamical screening. The TDDFT results are compared with results from classical electromagnetic calculations based on the local Drude and non-local hydrodynamic descriptions of the nanowire permittivity, as well as with results from a recently developed quantum corrected model. The latter provides a way to include quantum mechanical effects such as electron tunneling in standard classical electromagnetic simulations. We show that the TDDFT results can be thus retrieved semi-quantitatively within a classical framework. We also discuss the shortcomings of classical non-local hydrodynamic approaches. Finally, the implications of the actual position of the screening charge density at the gap interfaces are discussed in connection with plasmon ruler applications at subnanometric distances.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't