Investigation of Surface Electromagnetic Waves with Multi-Heterodyne Scanning Near-Field Optical Microscopy

In this thesis, we present the development of a tunable Multi-Heterodyne Scanning Near-Field Optical Microscope (MH-SNOM). This instrument has been built and evaluated for the investigation of optical near fields in amplitude, phase and polarization. With this microscope, the response of a structure illuminated with two orthogonally polarized beams can be simultaneously measured both in amplitude and phase. Moreover, the integral state of polarization at the surface of a specimen can be retrieved under specific conditions. We demonstrate the capabilities of the system through a series of measurements involving Surface Electromagnetic Waves (SEWs). We have mainly focused our attention on a particular class of SEWs known as Bloch Surface Waves (BSWs). The propagation of BSWs on the outer surface of a silicon nitride multilayer has been studied in detail. Furthermore, we show that this propagation is affected by the presence of shallow dielectric corrugations such as a subwavelength grating or at the straight interface with a coated portion of the multilayer. In particular, we demonstrate that ultra-thin (thickness < λ/10) dielectric ridges may act as BSW waveguides. Combining the detection capabilities of the MH-SNOM with a numerical treatment of the experimental data, we are able to separate the transverse and longitudinal field components of the three modes propagating within a specific BSW waveguide. This new structure provides interesting opportunities in waveguide-based biosensing schemes in which the ridge is realized with functionalized molecular layers of nanometric thickness. Finally, we investigate a structure sustaining another type of SEW: Surface Plasmon Polaritons (SPPs). This structure is designed for the asymmetrical coupling of SPPs at normal incidence. Through a detailed analysis of the spatial spectra, we show that, in addition to SPPs, the field contains other near-field components. All these experiments demonstrate the expected MH-SNOM capabilities of measuring the amplitude, phase and polarization of optical near fields. The MH-SNOM therefore serves as a powerful tool for the investigation with subwavelength resolution of optical near fields generated in structures such as integrated optics, photonic crystals, cavities, resonators, etc.

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