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Published May 29, 2006 | Published
Journal Article Open

Direct imaging of propagation and damping of near-resonance surface plasmon polaritons using cathodoluminescence spectroscopy


Cathodoluminescence imaging spectroscopy is used to determine the propagation distance of surface plasmon polaritons near the surface plasmon resonance on both silver and gold films. Surface plasmon polaritons are generated by a focused (diameter of 5 nm) electron beam spot in the metal and coupled out through a grating. By gradually varying the distance between the excitation spot and the grating the damping is probed. Propagation lengths as small as several hundred nanometers are probed, and an increase in propagation length is observed if the wavelength is increased above resonance. The measured data are compared with the calculated propagation lengths taking into account both absorption in the film and leakage radiation, and it is found that other loss mechanisms appear to be significant as well.

Additional Information

© 2006 American Institute of Physics (Received 27 January 2006; accepted 19 April 2006; published online 1 June 2006) Chris Retif is gratefully acknowledged for assistance in nanofabrication of the samples and Hans Zeijlemaker for the technical assistance during the installation of the CL system. This work was made possible by the fabrication and characterization facilities of the Amsterdam nanoCenter. It is part of the research program of the "Stichting voor Fundamenteel Onderzoek der Materie (FOM)," which is financially supported by the "Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (NWO)." It is also part of NANONED, a nanotechnology program of the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs. The Caltech portion of this work was supported by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research under MURI Grant No. FA9550-04-1-0434. One of the authors (C.R.) acknowledges fellowship support from the Department of Defense fellowship program, and another author (H.A.A.) acknowledges support from AMOLF's Joop Los Fellowship.

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