Near-ideal optical metamaterial absorbers with super-octave bandwidth

ACS Nano. 2014 Feb 25;8(2):1517-24. doi: 10.1021/nn4057148. Epub 2014 Feb 12.


Nanostructured optical coatings with tailored spectral absorption properties are of interest for a wide range of applications such as spectroscopy, emissivity control, and solar energy harvesting. Optical metamaterial absorbers have been demonstrated with a variety of customized single band, multiple band, polarization, and angular configurations. However, metamaterials that provide near unity absorptivity with super-octave bandwidth over a specified optical wavelength range have not yet been demonstrated experimentally. Here, we show a broadband, polarization-insensitive metamaterial with greater than 98% measured average absorptivity that is maintained over a wide ± 45° field-of-view for mid-infrared wavelengths between 1.77 and 4.81 μm. The nearly ideal absorption is realized by using a genetic algorithm to identify the geometry of a single-layer metal nanostructure array that excites multiple overlapping electric resonances with high optical loss across greater than an octave bandwidth. The response is optimized by substituting palladium for gold to increase the infrared metallic loss and by introducing a dielectric superstrate to suppress reflection over the entire band. This demonstration advances the state-of-the-art in high-performance broadband metamaterial absorbers that can be reliably fabricated using a single patterned layer of metal nanostructures.