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Remote structuring of near-field landscapes

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Science  24 Jul 2020:
Vol. 369, Issue 6502, pp. 436-440
DOI: 10.1126/science.abb6406

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Sculpting the optical near field

In the generation of electromagnetic fields, light can be broken down into two components: the far field, which we generally see and is caused by propagating waves, and the near field. The near field presents the nonpropagating component of the electromagnetic field at subwavelength distance from the source of radiation. Probing the near field, however, can also provide detailed, subwavelength information about the emitting source. Ginis et al. present a nanophotonic-based method for controlling and manipulating the near-field landscape. This approach provides the possibility of exploiting the near-field component of light for on-chip applications that would normally require bulky optics.

Science, this issue p. 436

Abstract

The electromagnetic near field enables subwavelength applications such as near-field microscopy and nanoparticle manipulation. Present methods to structure the near field rely on optical antenna theory, involving nanostructures that locally convert propagating waves into confined near-field patterns. We developed a theory of remote rather than local near-field shaping, based on cascaded mode conversion and interference of counterpropagating guided waves with different propagation constants. We demonstrate how to structure at will the longitudinal and transverse variation of the near field, allowing for distributions beyond the conventional monotonic decay of the evanescent field. We provide an experimental realization that confirms our theory. Our method applies to fields with arbitrary polarization states and mode profiles, providing a path toward three-dimensional control of the near field.

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