Observing optical plasmons on a single nanometer scale Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • The exceptional capability of plasmonic structures to confine light into deep subwavelength volumes has fashioned rapid expansion of interest from both fundamental and applicative perspectives. Surface plasmon nanophotonics enables to investigate light - matter interaction in deep nanoscale and harness electromagnetic and quantum properties of materials, thus opening pathways for tremendous potential applications. However, imaging optical plasmonic waves on a single nanometer scale is yet a substantial challenge mainly due to size and energy considerations. Here, for the first time, we use Kelvin Probe Force Microscopy (KPFM) under optical illumination to image and characterize plasmonic modes. We experimentally demonstrate unprecedented spatial resolution and measurement sensitivity both on the order of a single nanometer. By comparing experimentally obtained images with theoretical calculation results, we show that KPFM maps may provide valuable information on the phase of the optical near field. Additionally, we propose a theoretical model for the relation between surface plasmons and the material workfunction measured by KPFM. Our findings provide the path for using KPFM for high resolution measurements of optical plasmons, prompting the scientific frontier towards quantum plasmonic imaging on submolecular scales.

publication date

  • January 1, 2015