Polarization-Directed Surface Plasmon Polariton Launching

The relative intensities of propagating surface plasmons (PSPs) simultaneously launched from opposing edges of a symmetric trench structure etched into a silver thin film may be controllably varied by tuning the linear polarization of the driving field. This is demonstrated through transient multiphoton photoemission electron microscopy measurements performed using a pair of spatially separated phase-locked femtosecond pulses. Our measurements are rationalized using finite-difference time domain simulations, which reveal that the coupling efficiency into the PSP modes is inversely proportional to the magnitude of the localized surface plasmon fields excited at the trench edges. Our combined experimental and computational results allude to the interplay between localized and propagating surface plasmon modes in the trench; strong coupling to the localized modes at the edges correlates to weak coupling to the PSP modes. Polarization-directed PSP launching measurements reveal an optimal PSP contrast ratio of 4.2 using a 500 nm wide trench.