Optical Dark-Field and Electron Energy Loss Imaging and Spectroscopy of Symmetry-Forbidden Modes in Loaded Nanogap Antennas

We have produced large numbers of hybrid metal–semiconductor nanogap antennas using a scalable electrochemical approach and systematically characterized the spectral and spatial character of their plasmonic modes with optical dark-field scattering, electron energy loss spectroscopy with principal component analysis, and full wave simulations. The coordination of these techniques reveal that these nanostructures support degenerate transverse modes which split due to substrate interactions, a longitudinal mode which scales with antenna length, and a symmetry-forbidden <i>gap-localized transverse</i> mode. This gap-localized transverse mode arises from mode splitting of transverse resonances supported on both antenna arms and is confined to the gap load enabling (i) delivery of substantial energy to the gap material and (ii) the possibility of tuning the antenna resonance <i>via</i> active modulation of the gap material’s optical properties. The resonant position of this symmetry-forbidden mode is sensitive to gap size, dielectric strength of the gap material, and is highly suppressed in air-gapped structures which may explain its absence from the literature to date. Understanding the complex modal structure supported on hybrid nanosystems is necessary to enable the multifunctional components many seek.