Probing the Magnetic Field of Light at Optical Frequencies

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Science  23 Oct 2009:
Vol. 326, Issue 5952, pp. 550-553
DOI: 10.1126/science.1177096

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Light is an electromagnetic wave composed of oscillating electric and magnetic fields, the one never occurring without the other. In light-matter interactions at optical frequencies, the magnetic component of light generally plays a negligible role. When we “see” or detect light, only its electric field is perceived; we are practically blind to its magnetic component. We used concepts from the field of metamaterials to probe the magnetic field of light with an engineered near-field aperture probe. We visualized with subwavelength resolution the magnetic- and electric-field distribution of propagating light.

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