Researchers at Rice University have discovered a new way to make ultrasensitive conductivity measurements at optical frequencies on high-speed nanoscale electronic components. The researchers linked pairs of puck-shaped metal nanodisks with metallic nanowires and showed how the flow of current at optical frequencies through the nanowires produced “charge transfer plasmons” with unique optical signatures.

Depiction of a pair of gold nanodisks linked by a gold bridge. (Fangfang Wen/Rice University)

The push to continually increase the speed of microchip components has researchers looking at nanoscale devices and components that operate at optical frequencies for next-generation electronics. The new technique provides a way to measure the electrical transport properties of nanomaterials and structures at these extremely high frequencies.

The optical frequency conductance of most materials is not known. The new technique provides a useful and practical method to measure this property.