Exploiting Evanescent Field Polarization for Giant Chiroptical Modulation from Achiral Gold Half-Rings

Kyle W. Smith, Lauren A. McCarthy, Alessandro Alabastri, Luca Bursi, Wei Shun Chang, Peter Nordlander, Stephan Link

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


For applications seeking to realize on-chip polarization-discriminating nanoantennas, efficient energy conversion from surface waves to far-field radiation is desirable. However, the response of individual nanoantennas to the particular polarization states achievable in surface waves, such as evanescent fields, has not yet been thoroughly investigated. Here, we report the giant modulation of visible light scattering from achiral gold half-rings when switching between evanescent surface wave excitation produced from the total internal reflection of left-handed and right-handed circularly polarized light. The effect is driven by a differing relative phase between the in-plane transverse and longitudinal field oscillations of the evanescent wave depending on the incident light handedness. Because longitudinal field oscillations are not found in free-space excitation, this presents a fundamentally different mechanism for chiroptical responses as traditional mechanisms for circular dichroism only account for purely transversal field oscillations. Although the half-ring scattering modulation is dependent on the wave-vector orientation, an orientation invariant response is also realized in planar chiral nanoantennas composed of 8 half-rings in a rotationally symmetric arrangement, with up to 50% scattering modulation observed at 725 nm. Although both structures are found to produce scattering modulation when switching the handedness of free-space light, the distinct polarization properties of evanescent fields are shown to be strictly required to observe giant scattering modulation. These results ultimately deepen our understanding of the range of possible chiroptical effects in light-matter interactions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11657-11663
Number of pages7
JournalACS Nano
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 27 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • evanescent fields
  • extrinsic chirality
  • longitudinal field oscillations
  • nanoantenna
  • planar chirality
  • polarization discrimination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • General Engineering
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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