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Statistical plasmonics: novel partially coherent surface plasmon polariton fields

Doctor of Philosophy Yahong Chen’s thesis introduces a novel class of random electromagnetic surface waves, called partially coherent surface plasmon polariton fields. The study on the intrinsic statistical behavior of such random surface fields in this thesis reveals a brand new discipline—statistical plasmonics.

When a pebble is thrown into a pond, ripples spread out, creating waves that travel along the water surface. In nanophotonics, a similar phenomenon happens. By shining light (photons) onto a metal surface (such as gold or silver), electromagnetic waves, akin to the water surface waves, propagating along the metal boundary, may be created. Such electromagnetic surface waves are known as surface plasmon polaritons. The subject of plasmonics is specifically concerned with the behavior of the surface plasmon polaritons. Plasmonics, regarded as a new branch of optics, has grown very fast during the past two decades. It appears at the junction of nanotechnology, quantum mechanics, subwavelength optics, and solid-state physics. Today, plasmonics has found a broad range of applications in numerous areas of interdisciplinary science and engineering.

However, all light sources in nature or in optical laboratories, fluctuate more or less randomly in both space and time. Statistical optics is a subject to deal with the behavior of such random light fields. Coherence is the main concept in statistical optics. Coherence information hidden in a randomly fluctuating light field involves many fundamental physical effects. To date, plasmonics has mainly concerned fully monochromatic – and thereby completely coherent and polarized – surface plasmon polariton phenomena. The random nature of light-induced surface plasmon polaritons is important both fundamentally and in practice. Therefore, it is essential to explore the coherence properties and the hidden physics as well as the related potential applications of the random surface plasmon polariton fields.

In this thesis, the statistical behavior of the random surface plasmon polariton fields is systematically examined. The excitation, physical representations, and determination of polychromatic, partially coherent surface plasmon polariton fields are investigated. The coherence statistics of partially coherent, structured surface plasmon polariton fields are examined in detail. The studies on the statistical plasmonics may bring new breakthroughs in photonic surface science and technology.

The doctoral dissertation of PhD Yahong Chen, entitled Partially coherent surface plasmon polariton fields will be examined at the Faculty of Science and Forestry. The opponent in the public examination will be Professor Girish Agarwal, Texas A&M University, USA, and the custos will be Professor Ari T. Friberg, University of Eastern Finland.

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