A submicron broadband surface-plasmon-polariton unidirectional coupler


The manipulation of light propagation is a basic subject in optics and has many important applications. With the development of nano-optics, this area has been downscaled to wavelength or even subwavelength scales. One of the most efficient ways to control light propagation is to exploit interference effects. Here, by manipulating the interference between two nanogrooves on a metal surface, we realize a submicron broadband surface-plasmon-polariton (SPP) unidirectional coupler. More importantly, we find an anomalous bandwidth shrinking behavior in the proposed SPP unidirectional coupler as the groove separation is down to a subwavelength scale of one-quarter of the SPP wavelength. This abnormal behavior is well explained by considering the contribution of the near-field quasi-cylindrical waves in addition to the interference of propagating SPPs and the dispersion effects of individual grooves. Such near-field effects provide new opportunities for the design of ultracompact optical devices.