The interaction of light with free electrons in a gold or silver nanostructure can give rise to collective excitations commonly known as surface plasmons. Plasmons provide a powerful means of confining light to metal/dielectric interfaces, which in turn can generate intense local electromagnetic fields and significantly amplify the signal derived from analytical techniques that rely on light, such as Raman scattering. With plasmons, photonic signals can be manipulated on the nanoscale, enabling integration with electronics (which is now moving into the nano regime). However, to benefit from their interesting plasmonic properties, metal structures of controlled shape (and size) must be fabricated on the nanoscale. This issue of MRS Bulletin examines how gold and silver nanostructures can be prepared with controllable shapes to tailor their surface plasmon resonances and highlights some of the unique applications that result, including enhancement of electromagnetic fields, optical imaging, light transmission, colorimetric sensing, and nanoscale waveguiding.
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