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Virtual Journal for Biomedical Optics

Virtual Journal for Biomedical Optics


  • Editors: Andrew Dunn and Anthony Durkin
  • Vol. 7, Iss. 7 — Jun. 25, 2012

Imaging slit-coupled surface plasmon polaritons using conventional optical microscopy

R. Mehfuz, F. A. Chowdhury, and K. J. Chau  »View Author Affiliations

Optics Express, Vol. 20, Issue 10, pp. 10526-10537 (2012)

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We develop a technique that now enables surface plasmon polaritons (SPPs) coupled by nano-patterned slits in a metal film to be detected using conventional optical microscopy with standard objective lenses. The crux of this method is an ultra-thin polymer layer on the metal surface, whose thickness can be varied over a nanoscale range to enable controllable tuning of the SPP momentum. At an optimal layer thickness for which the SPP momentum matches the momentum of light emerging from the slit, the SPP coupling efficiency is enhanced about six times relative to that without the layer. The enhanced efficiency results in distinctive and bright plasmonic signatures near the slit visible by naked eye under an optical microscope. We demonstrate how this capability can be used for parallel measurement through a simple experiment in which the SPP propagation distance is extracted from a single microscope image of an illuminated array of nano-patterned slits on a metal surface. We also use optical microscopy to image the focal region of a plasmonic lens and obtain results consistent with a previously-reported results using near-field optical microscopy. Measurement of SPPs near a nano-slit using conventional and widely-available optical microscopy is an important step towards making nano-plasmonic device technology highly accessible and easy-to-use.

© 2012 OSA

OCIS Codes
(050.1220) Diffraction and gratings : Apertures
(240.6680) Optics at surfaces : Surface plasmons
(350.4600) Other areas of optics : Optical engineering

ToC Category:
Optics at Surfaces

Original Manuscript: February 21, 2012
Revised Manuscript: April 7, 2012
Manuscript Accepted: April 13, 2012
Published: April 23, 2012

Virtual Issues
Vol. 7, Iss. 7 Virtual Journal for Biomedical Optics

R. Mehfuz, F. A. Chowdhury, and K. J. Chau, "Imaging slit-coupled surface plasmon polaritons using conventional optical microscopy," Opt. Express 20, 10526-10537 (2012)

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