In contrast with linearly polarized excitation, which necessarily has zero magnitude electrical field twice during an optical cycle, the electrical field vector of circularly polarized light has constant magnitude. During an optical cycle the electric field vector rotates in the plane normal to the wave propagation. Consequently, if plasmonic structures are resonant with circularly polarized excitation, it is possible for them to exhibit regions of strongly modified carrier density for the duration of the optical cycle.
Here, we study a class of achiral toroid and ‘sun burst’ nano-patterned plasmonic surfaces that show persistent, circulating charge density waves during circularly polarized illumination. The direction of the continuously circulating wave (clockwise or counterclockwise) depends on the handedness of the incident beam. Our interest stems from whether these charge density waves can support circular electric currents (DC) manifest experimentally as static magnetic fields during illumination. Using full-wave optical modeling (FDTD method), and mechanistic calculations of the circulating potential acting on electrons in the toroid resonators, we outline the conditions that maximize optical excitation of both circulating displacement currents and electron transport currents. We show that in the limit of very weak coupling to the solenoid-like electron transport, or when < 1 x 10^-6% of the plasmonically active electron population enters the circular transport modes, relatively strong magnetic fields, > 1 G, can be expected. We discuss scanning probe measurements for monitoring the induced magnetic field, as well as the relationship between this phenomenon and the inverse Faraday effect observed in continuous media.
Matthew T. Sheldon, "Plasmonic magnetization during circularly polarized excitation (Presentation Recording)," Proc. SPIE 9544, Metamaterials, Metadevices, and Metasystems 2015, 954409 (Presented at SPIE Nanoscience + Engineering: August 09, 2015; Published: 5 October 2015); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2189919.4519316159001.
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