Mapping the near-field spin angular momenta in the structured surface plasmon polariton field†
Optical spin angular momenta in a confined electromagnetic field exhibit a remarkable difference with their free space counterparts; in particular, the optical transverse spin that is locked with the energy propagating direction lays the foundation for many intriguing physical effects such as unidirectional transportation, quantum spin Hall effects, photonic Skyrmions, etc. In order to investigate the underlying physics behind the spin–orbit interactions as well as to develop the optical spin-based applications, it is crucial to uncover the spin texture in a confined field, yet it faces challenges due to their chiral and near-field vectorial features. Here, we propose a scanning imaging technique which can map the near-field distributions of the optical spin angular momenta with an achiral dielectric nanosphere. The spin angular momentum component normal to the interface can be uncovered experimentally by employing the proposed scanning imaging technique and the three-dimensional spin vector can be reconstructed theoretically with the experimental results. The experiment is demonstrated on the example of surface plasmon polaritons excited with various vector vortex beams under a tight-focusing configuration, where the spin–orbit interaction emerges clearly. The proposed method, which can be utilized to reconstruct the photonic Skyrmion and other photonic topological structures, is straightforward and of high precision, and hence it is expected to be valuable for the study of near-field spin optics and topological photonics.