Engineered disorder and light propagation in a planar photonic glass

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Romanov, Sergei G.
Orlov, Sergej
Ploss, Daniel
Weiss, Clemens K.
Vogel, Nicolas
Peschel, Ulf

The interaction of light with matter strongly depends on the structure of the latter at wavelength scale. Ordered systems interact with light via collective modes, giving rise to diffraction. In contrast, completely disordered systems are dominated by Mie resonances of individual particles and random scattering. However, less clear is the transition regime in between these two extremes, where diffraction, Mie resonances and near-field interaction between individual scatterers interplay. Here, we probe this transitional regime by creating colloidal crystals with controlled disorder from two-dimensional self-assembly of bidisperse spheres. Choosing the particle size in a way that the small particles are transparent in the spectral region of interest enables us to probe in detail the effect of increasing positional disorder on the optical properties of the large spheres. With increasing disorder a transition from a collective optical response characterized by diffractive resonances to single particles scattering represented by Mie resonances occurs. In between these extremes, we identify an intermediate, hopping-like light transport regime mediated by resonant interactions between individual spheres. These results suggest that different levels of disorder, characterized not only by absence of long range order but also by differences in short-range correlation and interparticle distance, exist in colloidal glasses.

Journal Title
Scientific Reports

Scientific Reports 6 (2016).

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