Surface-trapped light pulses monitored in real-time during propagation


Light fields can propagate along metal surfaces via coupling to charge oscillations of the conduction electrons. The two-dimensional nature of these so-called surface plasmon polaritons (SPP) is highly attractive for applications in nanoscale photonics with prospects in data transport and processing. In a recent work published in Nano letters, Michael Bauer and his team from the IEAP, together with the groups of Martin Aeschlimann (TU Kaiserslautern) and Carsten Reinhardt (Laser Zentrum Hannover), succeeded in imaging the propagation of ultrashort SPP pulses in a two-dimensional microscopic focusing unit. At a time-resolution of about 10-14 seconds, the researchers monitored how the pulses evolve in space and time as they pass the focal point. The presented experimental approach is a promising tool for analyzing the capabilities of future nano-optical components used in high-speed applications. The work was funded by the German Science Foundation (DFG) through Priority Program 1391 “Ultrafast Nanooptics”.