Dr. Andrea Alù is an associate professor and David & Doris Lybarger Endowed Faculty Fellow in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin. His main fields of work include metamaterials, plasmonics and nanoantennas, and he has received CST University Publication Awards in 2008 and 2012. We spoke to him recently about his work in plasmonics and how he uses electromagnetic simulations.
CST: Hello Andrea, we’re happy you could take the time to speak to us. Your most recent CST University Publication Award win came from the paper on the properties of optical nanoantennas. What was the background to this research?
Alù: Optical nanoantennas are a hot topic in our research field, and in the past few years we have worked quite extensively to bridge a few of the well-known concepts in antenna theory, such as input impedance and radiation efficiency, to nano-optics. For the interested reader, a recent survey of the field is available in Optical Antennas, Cambridge University Press (2013) by Mario Agio and me.
CST: What role did simulation play in this work?
Alù: CST has helped us efficiently modeling optical antennas, which is not a trivial task, due to the plasmonic properties of metals at optical frequencies and the associated frequency dispersion and quasi-static resonances. The full-wave simulation tools offered by CST, both in time and frequency-domain, were essential to validate our theory and analyze the effects of shape, loading and material properties on the radiation properties of optical antennas. CST is able to capture all the challenges associated with analyzing optical antennas.
CST: Going back a bit, your previous win was for another plasmonic application, a system for cloaking objects. How did you use CST MICROWAVE STUDIO to simulate the plasmonic materials?
Alù: CST MICROWAVE STUDIO has been, to my knowledge, the first commercial software that allowed the user to implement frequency dispersion in the available materials, allowing us to model the plasmonic metamaterials we needed to realize our cloaks. Also in this case CST has been very instrumental to validate our theory and explore more realistic geometries that we would not have been otherwise able to rigorously simulate.
CST: Did the award help you or your group in carrying out research?
Alù: Sure, the awards have been a very nice surprise, and the free licenses in both instances have been helpful. We would like to thank the CST staff and the award committee for choosing our papers when assigning this recognition.
My group keeps using CST quite extensively, so stay tuned for several more upcoming works based on this software. We appreciate the continuous improvements on the software and the breadth of available applications.
CST: Thank you for your comments!
For more information, see Andrea Alù's homepage.