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Global scientific team suggests using titanium nitride instead of gold in optoelectronics

An international research team from Russia, Sweden, and the US has suggested substituting gold and silver, which are used in optoelectronic devices, with inexpensive titanium nitride.
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«Titanium nitride possesses excellent anticorrosive and thermostable properties. It is non-toxic and can be easily, and most importantly, cheaply synthesized. This makes this material very promising for practical applications and provides greater benefits than the widely used gold and silver,» said a co-author of the study and research assistant at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Ilya Rasskazov.

For manufacturing optoelectronic devices (for example, lasers and biosensors for medicine) faster and more accurately, a surface plasmon resonance is used. In this process, an electromagnetic wave that appears under light irradiation propagates over the metal surface.

The surface plasmon resonance can be made on noble metals, but they are not suitable for obtaining this effect in the telecommunication wavelength range required for most digital devices. «The bulk of digital equipment operates within telecommunication frequency range. However, gold and silver, which are widely applied in the field of plasmonics, do not enable such an effect,» the head of research for the Siberian Federal University Sergey Polyutov said. Siberian scientists proposed using titanium nitride, the substance that is, for example, applied to gold-plated church domes.

Studies of this material have demonstrated that it produces a plasmonic resonance with the energy factor (Q-factor) being by several thousand orders of magnitude larger than those of gold. This implies that it can better conserve energy and wave oscillations do not attenuate for a longer period.

Now, scientists are mainly focused on its practical application; to introduce the material they researched for manufacturing optoelectronic devices. In the future, hyper-sensitive sensors for medicine and IR vibration spectroscopy could be made.

The study’s results have been published in the journal Applied Physical Letters.
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