3D Imaging of Gap Plasmons in Vertically Coupled Nanoparticles by EELS Tomography

Plasmonic gap modes provide the ultimate confinement of optical fields. Demanding high spatial resolution, the direct imaging of these modes was only recently achieved by electron energy loss spectroscopy (EELS) in a scanning transmission electron microscope (STEM). However, conventional 2D STEM-EELS is only sensitive to components of the photonic local density of states (LDOS) parallel to the electron trajectory. It is thus insensitive to specific gap modes, a restriction that was lifted with the introduction of tomographic 3D EELS imaging. Here, we show that by 3D EELS tomography the gap mode LDOS of a vertically stacked nanotriangle dimer can be fully imaged. Besides probing the complete mode spectrum, we demonstrate that the tomographic approach allows disentangling the signal contributions from the two nanotriangles that superimpose in a single measurement with a fixed electron trajectory. Generally, vertically coupled nanoparticles enable the tailoring of 3D plasmonic fields, and their full characterization will thus aid the development of complex nanophotonic devices.