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.

Herzig, Hans Peter
Lausanne, EPFL
Other identifiers:
urn: urn:nbn:ch:bel-epfl-thesis4671-9

 Record created 2010-02-22, last modified 2018-12-05

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