Research ArticleQUANTUM OPTICS

Single-plasmon interferences

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Science Advances  11 Mar 2016:
Vol. 2, no. 3, e1501574
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1501574


Surface plasmon polaritons are electromagnetic waves coupled to collective electron oscillations propagating along metal-dielectric interfaces, exhibiting a bosonic character. Recent experiments involving surface plasmons guided by wires or stripes allowed the reproduction of quantum optics effects, such as antibunching with a single surface plasmon state, coalescence with a two-plasmon state, conservation of squeezing, or entanglement through plasmonic channels. We report the first direct demonstration of the wave-particle duality for a single surface plasmon freely propagating along a planar metal-air interface. We develop a platform that enables two complementary experiments, one revealing the particle behavior of the single-plasmon state through antibunching, and the other one where the interferences prove its wave nature. This result opens up new ways to exploit quantum conversion effects between different bosonic species as shown here with photons and polaritons.

  • physics
  • quantum optics
  • surface plasmon
  • plasmonic device
  • wave-particle duality

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