DS03 - Stimuler le renouveau industriel

Epsilon Near Zero anisotropic material for photodetection – mEtaNiZo

Submission summary

The mEtaNiZo projects aims to take advantage of specific electromagnetic modes to enhance light-matter interaction in order to realize a new type of infrared photodetector.

These so-called ENZ modes (Epsilon Near Zero, for dielectric function close to zero) give a strong spatial confinement and strong enhancement of the electromagnetic field intensity. Members of the consortium recently introduced these ENZ mode and studied them both theoretically and in practical device (5 peer-reviewed papers totalizing 180 citations since 2012, and 2 patents). An electrically controlled reflectivity modulator was demonstrated, based on ENZ mode supported by a single quantum well. This device works at a wavelength of 34.4 microns, and at room-temperature which shows the high potential of ENZ mode for efficient light-matter interaction.

Based on this success, we enlarged our consortium with an industrial partner to expand the competencies, expertise and technical capacities at our disposal to achieve our new objectives.

ENZ modes are very new in the community and, to our knowledge, have never been used for photodetection. Preliminary calculations by members of the consortium show that, under particular conditions, anisotropy in the dielectric function of ENZ material allows to further improve the mode properties and give birth to supplementary modes also benefitting from ENZ effect.

The project has two major axes: A fundamental research on the physics of ENZ modes in isotropic and anisotropic structures, design of metamaterials with combined optical and electronic properties, interaction of ENZ mode with electronic transport leading to photodetection schemes. A second axis is focus on design, fabrication and characterization of dedicated photo-detectors taking advantage of the specific properties of the ENZ modes: high field enhancement and strong spatial confinement.

Using these ENZ modes, the consortium aims to demonstrate two main effects: (1) a photodetection at room temperature in the Very Long Wavelength InfraRed (VLWIR, 30-40 µm band) range with a photoconductive detector, and (2) an increase of the operating temperature of quantum detector in the Long Wavelength InfraRed range (LWIR, 8-15 µm band). A first demonstration of concepts (field enhancement, spatial confinement) will be done using known quantum structures (Quantum Well Infrared Photodetector). In a second step, new structures will be designed. In the photoconductive case, we will study the very promising GaN-AlGaN system for room temperature detection in the 11-14µm range. For quantum detector, taking advantage of multi-photon absorption in the strongly enhanced field, operating temperature could be increased to about 150K.

The impact of the project is very broad, from fundamental understanding to new disrupting design strategies for practical devices. Increasing the working temperature using ENZ modes will also enlarge the available market: less constraints in the cooling systems will enable wider implementation and reduce usage costs. Enhancing detector efficiency also means faster systems, lower integration time that can make a real difference compared to the existing technology.

This project will thus bring a major technological breakthrough in IR photodetection and give a real phase advance to the partners (both academic and industrial).
We also believe this new kind of detectors will be a perfect combination with IR sources already commercially proposed by mirSense, a spin-off of a consortium member. Fully integrated systems are discussed as perspective of the project.

Project coordination

Jean-Luc Pelouard (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique / C2N)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


SPEC Service de physique de l'état condensé
IOGS-LCF Laboratoire Charles Fabry
CNRS / C2N Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique / C2N

Help of the ANR 555,155 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: January 2018 - 48 Months

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