Chiral nanophotonic waveguide interface based on spin-orbit interaction of light

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Science  03 Oct 2014:
Vol. 346, Issue 6205, pp. 67-71
DOI: 10.1126/science.1257671

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Controlling the flow of light with nanoparticles

Light propagating through optic fibers could provide the ultimate in information flow, but controlling the direction of flow is a key requirement. Petersen et al. show that the directional flow of light in a fiber can be controlled by placing a single gold nanoparticle on or near the surface of the fiber. By exploiting the chiral properties of light (the spin-orbit interaction), the authors demonstrate that the “handedness” or polarization state of the light hitting the particle determines in which direction the light flows in the fiber.

Science, this issue p. 67


Controlling the flow of light with nanophotonic waveguides has the potential of transforming integrated information processing. Because of the strong transverse confinement of the guided photons, their internal spin and their orbital angular momentum get coupled. Using this spin-orbit interaction of light, we break the mirror symmetry of the scattering of light with a gold nanoparticle on the surface of a nanophotonic waveguide and realize a chiral waveguide coupler in which the handedness of the incident light determines the propagation direction in the waveguide. We control the directionality of the scattering process and can direct up to 94% of the incoupled light into a given direction. Our approach allows for the control and manipulation of light in optical waveguides and new designs of optical sensors.

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