Angle- and polarization-insensitive, small area, subtractive color filters via a-Si nanopillar arrays
Spectrally-selective nanophotonic and plasmonic structures enjoy widespread interest for application as color filters in imaging devices, due to their potential advantages over traditional organic dyes and pigments. Organic dyes are straightforward to implement with predictable optical performance at large pixel size, but suffer from inherent optical cross-talk and stability (UV, thermal, humidity) issues and also exhibit increasingly unpredictable performance as pixel size approaches dye molecule size. Nanophotonic and plasmonic color filters are more robust, but often have polarization- and angle-dependent optical response and/or require large-range periodicity. Herein, we report on design and fabrication of polarization- and angle-insensitive CYM color filters based on a-Si nanopillar arrays as small as 1 µm^2, supported by experiment, simulation, and analytic theory. Analytic waveguide and Mie theories explain the color filtering mechanism-- efficient coupling into and interband transition-mediated attenuation of waveguide-like modes—and also guided the FDTD simulation-based optimization of nanopillar array dimensions. The designed a-Si nanopillar arrays were fabricated using e-beam lithography and reactive ion etching; and were subsequently optically characterized, revealing the predicted polarization- and angle-insensitive (±40°) subtractive filter responses. Cyan, yellow, and magenta color filters have each been demonstrated. The effects of nanopillar array size and inter-array spacing were investigated both experimentally and theoretically to probe the issues of ever-shrinking pixel sizes and cross-talk, respectively. Results demonstrate that these nanopillar arrays maintain their performance down to 1um2 pixel sizes with no inter-array spacing. These concepts and results along with color-processed images taken with a fabricated color filter array will be presented and discussed.