Images reveal orbital angular momentum of plasmons

April 4, 2017
Scientists have produced nanometer-sized plasmon swirls on a metal surface that can perform useful work.

In a collaboration with colleagues from Haifa (Israel), Kaiserslautern and the University of Stuttgart (Stuttgart, Germany), scientists at the Center for Nanointegration (CENIDE) at the University of Duisburg-Essen succeeded in producing nanometer-sized plasmon swirls on a metal surface, filming the cycles at 100 attosecond intervals. Their work is described in a Science article, wherein the image-capture method and its implications for orbital angular momemtum and plasmonic theory and practice are discussed.

RELATED ARTICLE: OAM entangles four photons, not just two

To observe the motion of the spiraling plasmons in space and time required a concerted effort of the four involved research groups. Researchers from the University of Stuttgart fabricated small monocrystalline gold 'islands' on silicon substrates and carved Archimedean spirals into them, using focused ion beam lithography. If such spirals are illuminated with a femtosecond laser pulse, plasmon waves are excited at the spiral, adopt the shape of the spiral, and, in time, propagate towards the spiral’s center.

For imaging of the propagating plasmon waves, the scientists used time-resolved two-photon photoelectron microscopy (2PPE PEEM). This advanced surface microscopy technique is mastered by only a handful of research groups around the world, amongst them the groups in Kaiserslautern and Duisburg-Essen. The time-resolution of the experiment is accomplished via a pump-probe scheme: an initial (pump) femtosecond laser pulse starts a plasmon wave at the spiral, and a second, time-delayed (probe) femtosecond pulse is used to image the plasmon wave by exploiting constructive and destructive interference between plasmon and laser pulse. If the time interval between pump- and probe pulses is systematically increased in steps of approximately 100 as, the resulting images can be combined to create a super-slow motion movie of the spiraling plasmons.

The researchers found that two plasmons with different wavelengths could be excited--one propagated on top of the gold surface, while the other was located at the interface between the gold and the silicon substrate.

The lower spiral had a significantly shorter wavelength (180 nm) than its counterpart on the top (780 nm) and was the focus of CENIDE physicist professor Frank Meyer zu Heringdorf’s team from the University of Duisburg-Essen. The small size of the spiral opens up new possibilities for optical applications, where the smallest possible wavelengths are required in order to overcome the diffraction limit of light. Also, the use of circularly polarized laser pulses, in conjunction with the spiral shape, created a plasmon wave with orbital angular momentum (OAM). It is the first time that the spiraling motion of a plasmon wave with such OAM has been filmed in slow motion.

One possible application of OAM is the fast and reliable transmission of large volumes of data via fiber-optic cables. "We are also already considering how to move matter," reveals Meyer zu Heringdorf. "This would require particles positioned in the centre of the spiral that would absorb the angular momentum." Then a light pulse could be enough to rotate a nanoparticle.

SOURCE: University of Stuttgart;

About the Author

Gail Overton | Senior Editor (2004-2020)

Gail has more than 30 years of engineering, marketing, product management, and editorial experience in the photonics and optical communications industry. Before joining the staff at Laser Focus World in 2004, she held many product management and product marketing roles in the fiber-optics industry, most notably at Hughes (El Segundo, CA), GTE Labs (Waltham, MA), Corning (Corning, NY), Photon Kinetics (Beaverton, OR), and Newport Corporation (Irvine, CA). During her marketing career, Gail published articles in WDM Solutions and Sensors magazine and traveled internationally to conduct product and sales training. Gail received her BS degree in physics, with an emphasis in optics, from San Diego State University in San Diego, CA in May 1986.

Sponsored Recommendations

What AI demands mean for data centers

Nov. 28, 2023
The 2023 Photonics-Enabled Cloud Computing Summit assembled by Optica took an aggressive approach to calling out the limitations of today’s current technologies.

SLP feature for lighting control available on cameras offering

Nov. 28, 2023
A proprietary structured light projector (SLP) feature is now available on the company’s camera series, including the ace 2, boost R, ace U, and ace L.

Chroma Customer Spotlight - Dr. David Warshaw, About his Lab

Nov. 27, 2023
David Warshaw, Professor and Chair of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics at the University of Vermont (UVM), walks us through his lab. Learn about his lab’s work with the protein...

Catalog of Filters and Filter Sets

Nov. 27, 2023
This price list provides information about the filter sets Chroma Technology has created for the multitude of fluorochromes that are typically used in epi-fluorescence microscopy...

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of Laser Focus World, create an account today!