Investigations of the optical response of subwavelength-structure arrays milled into thin metal films have revealed surprising phenomena, including reports of unexpectedly high transmission of light. Many studies have interpreted the optical coupling to the surface in terms of the resonant excitation of surface plasmon polaritons (SPPs), but other approaches involving composite diffraction of surface evanescent waves (CDEW) have also been proposed. Here we present a series of measurements on very simple one-dimensional subwavelength structures to test the key properties of the surface waves, and compare them to the CDEW and SPP models. We find that the optical response of the silver metal surface proceeds in two steps: a diffractive perturbation in the immediate vicinity (2–3 μ m) of the structure, followed by excitation of a persistent surface wave that propagates over tens of micrometres. The measured wavelength and phase of this persistent wave are significantly shifted from those expected for resonance excitation of a conventional SPP on a pure silver surface.
Access optionsAccess options
Subscribe to Journal
Get full journal access for 1 year
only $15.58 per issue
All prices are NET prices.
VAT will be added later in the checkout.
Rent or Buy article
Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.
All prices are NET prices.
Ebbesen, T. W., Lezec, H. J., Ghaemi, H. F., Thio, T. & Wolff, H. J. Extraordinary optical transmission through sub-wavelength hole arrays. Nature 391, 667–669 (1998).
Thio, T., Pellerin, K. M., Linke, R. A., Ebbesen, T. W. & Lezec, H. J. Enhanced light transmission through a single subwavelength aperture. Opt. Lett. 26, 1972–1974 (2001).
Ghaemi, H. F., Thio, T., Grupp, D. E., Ebbesen, T. W. & Lezec, H. J. Surface plasmons enhance optical transmission through subwavelength holes. Phys. Rev. B 58, 6779–6782 (1998).
Raether, H. Surface Plasmons on Smooth and Rough Surfaces and on Gratings (Springer, Berlin, 1988).
Barnes, W. L., Dereux, A. & Ebbesen, T. W. Surface plasmon subwavelength optics. Nature 424, 824–830 (2003).
Treacy, M. J. Dynamical diffraction in metallic optical gratings. Appl. Phys. Lett. 75, 606–608 (1999).
Treacy, M. J. Dynamical diffraction explanation of the anomalous transmission of light through metallic gratings. Phys. Rev. B 66, 195105 (2002).
Cao, Q. & Lalanne, P. Negative role of surface plasmons in the transmission of metallic gratings with very narrow slits. Phys. Rev. Lett. 88, 057403 (2002).
García-Vidal, F. J., Lezec, H. J., Ebbesen, T. W. & Martin-Moreno, L. Multiple paths to enhance optical transmission through a single subwavelength slit. Phys. Rev. Lett. 90, 213901 (2003).
Chang, S.-H., Gray, S. K. & Schatz, G. C. Surface plasmon generation and light transmission by isolated nanoholes and arrays of nanoholes in thin metal films. Opt. Express 13, 3150–3165 (2005).
Lezec, H. J. & Thio, T. Diffracted evansecent wave model for enhanced and suppressed optical transmission through subwavelength hole arrays. Opt. Express 12, 3629–3651 (2004).
Mandel, L. & Wolf, E. Optical Coherence and Quantum Optics 109–120 (Cambridge Univ. Press, Cambridge, 1995).
Kowarz, M. W. Homogeneous and evanescent contribution in scalar near-field diffraction. Appl. Opt. 34, 3055–3063 (1995).
Johnson, P. & Christy, R. Optical constants of the noble metals. Phys. Rev. B 11, 1315–1323 (1975).
Palik, E. (ed.) Handbook of Optical Constants of Solids (Academic, New York, 1985).
Schouten, et al. Plasmon-assisted two-slit transmission: Young’s experiment revisited. Phys. Rev. Lett. 94, 053901 (2005).
Lalanne, P., Hugonin, J. P. & Rodier, J. C. Theory of surface plasmon generation at nanoslit apertures. Phys. Rev. Lett. 95, 263902 (2005).
Petit, R. Electromagnetic Theory of Gratings 136–144 (Springer, Berlin, 1980).
Mehan, N. & Mansingh, A. Study of tarnished films formed on silver by exposure to H2S with the surface-plasmon resonance technique. Appl. Opt. 39, 5214–5220 (2000).
Support from the Ministère délégué à l’Enseignement supérieur et à la Recherche under the programme ACI-‘Nanosciences-Nanotechnologies’, the Région Midi-Pyrénées [SFC/CR 02/22], and FASTNet [HPRN-CT-2002-00304] EU Research Training Network, is gratefully acknowledged, as is support from the Caltech Kavli Nanoscience Institute and from the AFOSR under Plasmon MURI FA9550-04-1-0434. Discussions and technical assistance from P. Lalanne, R. Mathevet, F. Kalkum, G. Derose, A. Scherer, D. Pacifici, J. Dionne, R. Walters and H. Atwater are also gratefully acknowledged.
The authors declare no competing financial interests.
About this article
EPL (Europhysics Letters) (2019)
Optical diode composed of subwavelength slit-groove arrays with ultrahigh transmission contrast based on surface plasmon polariton
Optics Communications (2018)
Optics Express (2018)
ACS Photonics (2018)