Phase-Resolved Mapping of the Near-Field Vector and Polarization State in Nanoscale Antenna Gaps

M. Schnell, A. Garcia-Etxarri, J. Alkorta, J. Aizpurua and R. Hillenbrand

Nano letters 10, 3524 (2010)
We demonstrate that the local near-field vector and polarization state on planar antenna structures and in nanoscale antenna gaps can be determined by scattering-type near-field optical microscopy (s-SNOM). The near-field vector is reconstructed from the amplitude and phase images of the in- and out-of-plane near-field components obtained by polarization-resolved interferometric detection. Experiments with a mid-infrared inverse bowtie antenna yield a vectorial near-field distribution with unprecedented resolution of about 10 nm and in excellent agreement with numerical simulations. Furthermore, we provide first direct experimental evidence that the nanoscale confined and strongly enhanced fields at the antenna gap are linearly polarized. s-SNOM vector-field mapping paves the way to a full near-field characterization of nanophotonic structures in the broad spectral range between visible and terahertz frequencies, which is essential for future development and quality control of metamaterials, optical sensors, and waveguides.