High-quality materials are critical for advances in plasmonics, especially as researchers now investigate quantum effects at the limit of single surface plasmons or exploit ultraviolet- or CMOS-compatible metals such as aluminum or copper. Unfortunately, due to inexperience with deposition methods, many plasmonics researchers deposit metals under the wrong conditions, severely limiting perform- ance unnecessarily. This is then compounded as others follow their published procedures. In this perspective, we describe simple rules collected from the surface-science literature that allow high-quality plasmonic films of aluminum, copper, gold, and silver to be easily deposited with commonly available equipment (a thermal evaporator). Recipes are also provided so that films with optimal optical properties can be routinely obtained.
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