Tunable near-infrared epsilon-near-zero and plasmonic properties of Ag-ITO co-sputtered composite films
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Series of co-sputtered silver-indium tin oxide (Ag-ITO) films are systematically fabricated. By tuning the atomic ratio of silver, composite films are manifested to have different microstructures with limited silver amount (<3 at.%). Two stages for film morphology changing are proposed to describe different status and growth mechanisms. The introduction of silver improves the preferred orientations of In2O3 component significantly. Remarkably, dielectric permittivity of Ag-ITO films is highly adjustable, allowing the cross-over wavelengths λ c to be changed by more than 300 nm through rapid post-annealing, and thus resulting in tunable epsilon-near-zero and plasmonic properties in the near-infrared region. Lower imaginary permittivity compared with pure metal films, as well as larger tunability in λ c than pure ITO films suggest the potentiality of Ag-ITO films as substituted near-infrared plasmonic materials. Extended Maxwell-Garnett model is applied for effective medium approximation and the red-shifting of epsilon-near-zero region with the increase of silver content is well-fitted. Angle-variable prism coupling is carried out to reveal the surface plasmon polariton features of our films at optical communication wavelength. Broad dips in reflectance curves around 52–56° correspond to the SPP in Ag-ITO films.