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Controlled steering of Cherenkov surface plasmon wakes with a one-dimensional metamaterial

Nature Nanotechnology volume 10, pages 804809 (2015) | Download Citation


In the Cherenkov effect a charged particle moving with a velocity faster than the phase velocity of light in the medium radiates light that forms a cone with a half angle determined by the ratio of the two speeds. Here, we show that by creating a running wave of polarization along a one-dimensional metallic nanostructure consisting of subwavelength-spaced rotated apertures that propagates faster than the surface plasmon polariton phase velocity, we can generate surface plasmon wakes, a two-dimensional analogue of Cherenkov radiation. The running wave of polarization travels with a speed determined by the angle of incidence and the photon spin angular momentum of the incident radiation. By changing either one of these properties we demonstrate controlled steering of the Cherenkov surface plasmon wakes.

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The authors thank T. Mansuripur, H. Galinski, M.A. Kats, J.P.B. Mueller and R. Zhang for discussions. The authors acknowledge Nanonics Ltd and MPD S.r.l. for support with the near-field set-up and photon detection, respectively. The authors acknowledge support from the Harvard Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center (NSEC; contract no. NSF/PHY 06-46094), from the Science and Engineering Research Council (SERC grant no. 1426500053) and the Center for Nanoscale Systems (CNS) at Harvard University, which is a member of the National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network (NNIN). This work was supported by a National Science Foundation Early-Concept Grant for Exploratory Research (grant no. ECCS-1347251) and by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (grant no. FA9550-12-1-0289).

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Author notes

    • Patrice Genevet
    • , Daniel Wintz
    •  & Antonio Ambrosio

    These authors contributed equally to this work


  1. School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University, 9 Oxford Street, McKay 125, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138, USA

    • Patrice Genevet
    • , Daniel Wintz
    • , Antonio Ambrosio
    • , Alan She
    • , Romain Blanchard
    •  & Federico Capasso
  2. Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology, 71 Nanyang Drive, Singapore 638075, Singapore

    • Patrice Genevet
  3. CNR-SPIN U.O.S. Napoli, Dipartimento di Fisica, Complesso Universitario di Monte Sant'Angelo, Università di Napoli Federico II, Via Cintia, Napoli 80126, Italy

    • Antonio Ambrosio
  4. Eos Photonics Inc., 30 Spinelli Place, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138, USA

    • Romain Blanchard
    •  & Federico Capasso


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P.G., D.W., A.A., A.S. and R.B. developed the theoretical descriptions. P.G. fabricated the devices. D.W., A.A. and P.G. conducted the experiments and analysed the results. A.A. and D.W. implemented the analytical model. P.G. and F.C. directed the research. P.G., D.W. and F.C. wrote the paper, with contributions from the other authors. P.G., D.W. and A.A. contributed equally to this work.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Patrice Genevet or Federico Capasso.

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