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Photon Tunneling Microscope Reveals Singularities

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A team at the University of Twente in Enschede, the Netherlands, has developed a technique that may aid the design and analysis of photonic structures. Reporting in the July 10 issue of Physical Review Letters, the researchers describe how they used a heterodyne interferometric photon scanning tunneling microscope to observe the phase singularities in an optical waveguide predicted by theory.

The researchers split a laser beam into two components: a reference and a beam that they injected into the 4-nm-high, 3-µm-wide Si3N4 channel. They scanned a fiber in a raster pattern 20 nm over the structure to probe the evanescent field at the waveguide-air interface by photon tunneling.

By combining the reference and the tunneled signals in a 50/50 fiber coupler, they determined the amplitude and phase of the local optical field, and identified the phase singularities caused by the interference of transverse electric and magnetic modes.

Photonics Spectra
Aug 2000
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