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Science. 2009 Oct 23;326(5952):550-3. doi: 10.1126/science.1177096. Epub 2009 Oct 1.

Probing the magnetic field of light at optical frequencies.

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Center for Nanophotonics, Stichting voor Fundamenteel Onderzoek der Materie (FOM) Institute-FOM Institute for Atomic and Molecular Physics (AMOLF), Science Park 104, 1098 XG Amsterdam, Netherlands.


Light is an electromagnetic wave composed of oscillating electric and magnetic fields, the one never occurring without the other. In light-matter interactions at optical frequencies, the magnetic component of light generally plays a negligible role. When we "see" or detect light, only its electric field is perceived; we are practically blind to its magnetic component. We used concepts from the field of metamaterials to probe the magnetic field of light with an engineered near-field aperture probe. We visualized with subwavelength resolution the magnetic- and electric-field distribution of propagating light.

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