Surface plasmons can be excited on a metal by an external plane-wave beam through the use of prism or grating couplers or by introducing roughness. This can enhance the electric field at the surface compared with that in the incident beam, and it has been suggested that this effect is an important aspect of surface-enhanced Raman scattering. A general upper limit for this field enhancement is derived on the basis of energy conservation. Numerical results are given for Ag, Au, and Cu. With a perfect coupler on a Ag surface, the maximum increase of the square of the electric field in the 2–3-eV range is ≅300. On randomly roughened surfaces, the estimated enhancements are of the order of unity.
© 1981 Optical Society of America
Original Manuscript: December 5, 1980
Published: March 1, 1981
W. H. Weber and G. W. Ford, "Optical electric-field enhancement at a metal surface arising from surface-plasmon excitation," Opt. Lett. 6, 122-124 (1981)