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Nat Commun. 2015 Mar 2;6:6407. doi: 10.1038/ncomms7407.

Simultaneous observation of the quantization and the interference pattern of a plasmonic near-field.

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Laboratory for Ultrafast Microscopy and Electron Scattering, ICMP, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Station 6, CH-1015 Lausanne, Switzerland.
Department of Physics, Trinity College, 300 Summit Street, Hartford, Connecticut 06106, USA.
Physical and Life Sciences Directorate, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, 7000 East Avenue L-356, Livermore, California 94551, USA.


Surface plasmon polaritons can confine electromagnetic fields in subwavelength spaces and are of interest for photonics, optical data storage devices and biosensing applications. In analogy to photons, they exhibit wave-particle duality, whose different aspects have recently been observed in separate tailored experiments. Here we demonstrate the ability of ultrafast transmission electron microscopy to simultaneously image both the spatial interference and the quantization of such confined plasmonic fields. Our experiments are accomplished by spatiotemporally overlapping electron and light pulses on a single nanowire suspended on a graphene film. The resulting energy exchange between single electrons and the quanta of the photoinduced near-field is imaged synchronously with its spatial interference pattern. This methodology enables the control and visualization of plasmonic fields at the nanoscale, providing a promising tool for understanding the fundamental properties of confined electromagnetic fields and the development of advanced photonic circuits.

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