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Vector field microscopic imaging of light


The behaviour of nanoscale optical devices in a variety of burgeoning research areas, such as photonic crystals1,2,3,4, near-field microscopy5,6,7, surface plasmonics8,9,10,11 and negative index of refraction materials12,13,14,15,16, is governed by strongly localized electromagnetic waves. Although such light waves are analogous to the localized electronic wavefunctions that determine the properties of solid-state quantum devices, unlike matter waves, these optical fields are vectorial in nature, and their orientation and magnitude vary on a subwavelength scale. In order to obtain a complete description of light in nanoscale devices, it is therefore crucial to be able to map the field vectors with subwavelength resolution. Thus far, local field vectors have mostly been studied by theoretical means. Here, we describe and demonstrate the first experimental mapping of vector fields of light on the nanoscale. By directly accessing the local field in its entirety, new capabilities and applications in nanophotonics may emerge.

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Figure 1: Vector-field mapping of an evanescent standing wave.
Figure 2: Vector-field mapping of the surface-plasmon polariton standing wave.
Figure 3: Vector-field mapping of light emerging from a single slit.


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The authors acknowledge research support from the Korean government (KOSEF, MOE, MOST, MOCI, and Seoul R&BD Program) and the German Research Foundation.

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Correspondence to D. S. Kim.

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Lee, K., Kihm, H., Kihm, J. et al. Vector field microscopic imaging of light. Nature Photon 1, 53–56 (2007).

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