Wireless Communication with Nanoplasmonic Data Carriers: Macroscale Propagation of Nanophotonic Plasmon Polaritons Probed by Near-Field Nanoimaging
The ability to control the energy flow of light at the nanoscale is fundamental to modern communication and big-data technologies, as well as quantum information processing schemes. However, since photons are diffraction limited, efforts of confining them to dimensions of integrated electronics have so far proven elusive. A promising way to facilitate nanoscale manipulation of light is through plasmon polaritons coupled excitations of photons and charge carriers. These tightly confined hybrid waves can facilitate compression of optical functionalities to the nanoscale but suffer from huge propagation losses that limit their use to mostly subwavelength scale applications. With only weak evidence of macroscale plasmon polaritons, propagation has recently been reported theoretically and indirectly, no experiments so far have directly resolved long-range propagating optical plasmons in real space. Here, we launch and detect nanoscale optical signals, for record distances in a wireless link based on novel plasmonic nanotransceivers. We use a combination of scanning probe microscopies to provide high resolution real space images of the optical near fields and investigate their longrange propagation principles. We design our nanotransceivers based on a high-performance nanoantenna, Plantenna, hybridized with channel plasmon waveguides with a cross-section of 20 nm X 20 nm, and observe propagation for distances up to 1000 times greater than the plasmon wavelength. We experimentally show that our approach hugely outperforms both waveguide and wireless nanophotonic links. This successful alliance between Plantenna and plasmon waveguides paves the way for new generations of optical interconnects and expedites long-range interaction between quantum emitters and photomolecular devices.