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For a two-dimensional lattice of Si pillars it is shown both experimentally and theoretically that a photonic band gap for the light polarized perpendicular to pillars can be strongly enhanced by means of a silver coating of the pillars. A sizable omnidirectional photonic band gap is demonstrated for both square and triangular lattice of silver-coated Si pillars in the near-infrared and visible spectral range. © 2003 American Institute of Physics.