Glimpsing the Weak Magnetic Field of Light

Science  23 Oct 2009:
Vol. 326, Issue 5952, pp. 529-530
DOI: 10.1126/science.1181552

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Since the work of James Clerk Maxwell and Heinrich Hertz, we have known that light is an electromagnetic wave. An intricate mechanism generates magnetic fields around the electric fields, and vice versa. In the optical-wavelength range, experimental studies have been limited to probing only the electric-field components. On page 550 of this issue, Burresi et al. (1) report direct measurements of the magnetic-field components of light obtained with a nanostructured metallic probe at the tip of a sharp glass fiber.