Recent metamaterial (MM) research faces several problems when using metal-based plasmonic components as building blocks for MMs. The use of conventional metals for MMs is limited by several factors: metals such as gold and silver have high losses in the visible and near-infrared (NIR) ranges and very large negative real permittivity values, and in addition, their optical properties cannot be tuned. These issues that put severe constraints on the device applications of MMs could be overcome if semiconductors are used as plasmonic materials instead of metals. Heavily doped, wide bandgap oxide semiconductors could exhibit both a small negative real permittivity and relatively small losses in the NIR. Heavily doped oxides of zinc and indium were already reported to be good, low loss alternatives to metals in the NIR range. Here, we consider these transparent conducting oxides (TCOs) as alternative plasmonic materials for many specific applications ranging from surface-plasmon-polariton waveguides to MMs with hyperbolic dispersion and epsilon-near-zero (ENZ) materials. We show that TCOs outperform conventional metals for ENZ and other MM-applications in the NIR.
- Transparent conducting oxides (TCOs)