Control and Near-Field Detection of Surface Plasmon Interference Patterns

The tailoring of electromagnetic near-field properties is the central task in the field of nanophotonics. In addition to 2D optics for optical nanocircuits, confined and enhanced electric fields are utilized in detection and sensing, photovoltaics, spatially localized spectroscopy (nanoimaging), as well as in nanolithography and nanomanipulation. For practical purposes, it is necessary to develop easy-to-use methods for controlling the electromagnetic near-field distribution. By imaging optical near-fields using a scanning near-field optical microscope, we demonstrate that surface plasmon polaritons propagating from slits along the metal–dielectric interface form tunable interference patterns. We present a simple way how to control the resulting interference patterns both by variation of the angle between two slits and, for a fixed slit geometry, by a proper combination of laser beam polarization and inhomogeneous far-field illumination of the structure. Thus the modulation period of interference patterns has become adjustable and new variable patterns consisting of stripelike and dotlike motifs have been achieved, respectively.