Case Study: Cherenkov SPPs


Patrice Genevet, Daniel Wintz, Antonio Ambrosio, Alan She, Romain Blanchardand Federico Capasso

Nature Nanotechnology

PUBLISHED ONLINE: 6 JULY 2015 | DOI: 10.1038/NNANO.2015.137

When a charged particle travels faster than the phase speed of light in a medium, a photonic shock wave called Cherenkov radiation is emitted. This electromagnetic shock wave is emitted as a cone in the three spatial dimensions. In this paper it was shown that a two dimensional analogue of Cherenkov radiation can be created to control and steer plasmons in one-dimensional metamaterials.

A one-dimensional metasuface was fabricated for the experiment, which consisted of an array of slits in different directions etched in the thin metal film. S-polarized light illuminates the metasurface in far-field and creates running waves of polarization (RWP). The RWP can be understood as a series of dipoles oriented normally to the slit axis
with different phases generated along the metasurface. These dipoles interact with the local distribution of free electrons on the metal surface and radiate SPP waves along the metal–dielectric surface. The RWP propagation speed is always larger than the SPP phase velocity. SEM image of nano- array structure

EM image of nano- array structure

Thus two-dimensional Cherenkov radiation is generated in the metasurface.
Moreover both experimental and theoretical analyses have showed that the direction of the Cherenkov radiation depends on the

angle and spin of the incident polarized light. Thus the propagation direction of the Cherenkov radiation can be controlled and steered by either one of these parameters.The experimental results show that that the direction of the SPP wakes depends on the angle and spin of the incident light. Thus the steering of the SPPs wakes can be achieved by variation of either one these parameters. The propagation direction of the two- dimensional Cherenkov radiation can be steered from forward to backward.

The experimental results are in the good agreement with the theoretical simulation.

The obtained results are very important step toward in understanding of the SPPs wakes propagation. The ability to control and manipulate of the SPPs propagation direction opens new horizons in development of novel plasmonic devices such as plasmonic phase modulators, plasmonic couplers, plasmonic holograms and beam-steering devices.

Experimental results. Forward Cherenkov SPP wakes (left), backward Cherenkov SPP wakes (right). Θ is angle of circular polarized incident light; σ+ and σ- are spin of the polarization, ϒ angle of Cherenkov SPP wakes propagation 


Experimental Setup:

The experimental analysis of the SPPs wake propagation was performed with a Nanonics Multiprobe MV 4000 near-field optical microscope in collection mode (with the NSOM probe collecting the light into a detector).  The MV 4000 allowed for such an experiment as a result of the following advantages:

  • Free optical access of the NSOM head from the both the top and the bottom. Allowing for direct illumination of the sample from below and easy visualization of the tip and sample from above.
  • Tip scanning allowing NSOM mapping of the SPP independent to the illumination and without moving the sample.
  • Topographic and near-field optical data are acquired simultaneously by scanning with Nanonics cantilevered NSOM probe.
  • Tuning fork (TF) feedback allows for no optical AFM feedback and no optical interference with the measurement
  • It is important to note that Apertured NSOM is important for such an experiment as an apertureless NSOM configuration would require laser illumination at the tip which can interferes with the Cherenkov radiation and lead to optical artifacts.