, Volume 216, Issue 4, pp 398-410

Excitation of nonradiative surface plasma waves in silver by the method of frustrated total reflection

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Abstract

A new method of exciting nonradiative surface plasma waves (SPW) on smooth surfaces, causing also a new phenomena in total reflexion, is described. Since the phase velocity of the SPW at a metal-vacuum surface is smaller than the velocity of light in vacuum, these waves cannot be excited by light striking the surface, provided that this is perfectly smooth.

However, if a prism is brought near to the metal vacuum-interface, the SPW can be excited optically by the evanescent wave present in total reflection. The excitation is seen as a strong decrease in reflection for the transverse magnetic light and for a special angle of incidence. The method allows of an accurate evaluation of the dispersion of these waves. The experimental results on a silver-vacuum surface are compared with the theory of metal optics and are found to agree within the errors of the optical constants.