The excitation efficiencies for coupling surface electromagnetic waves onto aluminum at a microwave frequency (ƒ = 8.445 GHz, λ = 3.55 cm) were studied experimentally for several different standard microwave techniques as well as two optical techniques (prism and grating) applied to the microwave frequency region and two new techniques (hump and valley). The peak measured efficiencies found were: for the standard rectangular waveguide, 92%; for the horn antenna, 73%; for the right angle prism properly gapped above the metal, 60%; for the hump of 10-wavelength radius of curvature, 35%; for the thin grating strips on polystyrene coated metal, 30%; for the grating bars gapped ½ wavelength above the metal, 26%; and, for the valley of 10-wavelength radius, 12%. The measurement of the excitation efficiencies for prism and grating coupling techniques sometimes required that the prism or grating be in the near field of the antenna. In addition to measuring peak efficiencies, the efficiencies were measured as functions of the gap heights, the angular orientations, the different diffraction modes, the shapes, and the materials of the grating bars. The coupling efficiencies for both prism and grating couplers show a strong dependence on gap height above the metal. Dielectric grating bars were found to be inefficient compared to solid or hollow metallic bars, or thin metallic strips. The distance between the target point of the center line of the microwave horn antenna and the corner of the prism was found to be about 1 wavelength for maximum prism coupling efficiency.
M. Davarpanah, C. A. Goben, D. L. Begley, and S. L. Griffith, "Surface electromagnetic wave coupling efficiencies for several excitation techniques," Appl. Opt. 15, 3066-3072 (1976)