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


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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Figure 1: Excitation of Cherenkov surface plasmon wakes with a running wave of polarization.
Figure 2: Near-field scanning optical microscopy data for surface plasmon wakes created along a long slit etched in a metal film.
Figure 3: Creation of SPP wakes by a one-dimensional metamaterial and scanning electron micrograph of the nanostructure.
Figure 4: Analytical model treating the rotated nanoslits as a phased dipole array, including interference between the SPP wakes and the incident beam.
Figure 5: Experimental set-up, near-field scanning optical microscopy images for the one-dimensional metamaterial and comparison to analytical model.
Figure 6: Near-field scanning optical microscopy images on the steering of 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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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.

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Correspondence to Patrice Genevet or Federico Capasso.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Genevet, P., Wintz, D., Ambrosio, A. et al. Controlled steering of Cherenkov surface plasmon wakes with a one-dimensional metamaterial. Nature Nanotech 10, 804–809 (2015).

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