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A Far-Field Interpretation of the Optical Chirality

  • A chiral structure is not super-imposable with its mirror image. Most commonly found in organic molecules, chirality can also occur in other systems, such as electromagnetic fields, where circularly polarized light is the most widespread example. Chiral electromagnetic fields can be a useful tool for biosensing applications. In particular, it has been shown that chiral plasmonic nanostructures have the ability to produce strongly enhanced chiral near-fields. Recently, our group has developed chiral plasmonic nanopyramids, which have the ability to focus chiral near-fields at their tip. This could enable chiral sensing at the single-molecule level. Chiral near-fields can be characterized in terms of the “optical chirality density”. This time-even and parity-odd pseudoscalar was first derived by Lipkin and was found to follow a conservation law analogous to the energy conservation of electromagnetic fields. More recently, Tang and Cohen identified the physical meaning of the “optical chirality density” as the degree of asymmetry in the excitation rate of a chiral molecule. However, how this near-field interpretation of the optical chirality could translate into the far-field is not well understood. Here, we formulate a far-field interpretation by investigating the conservation law for optical chirality in matter, and performing time-averaging in analogy to Poynting’s Theorem. In parallel to extinction energy, we define the “global chirality” as the sum of chirality dissipation within a material and the chirality flux leaving the system. With finite-element simulations, we place a dipole source at locations of enhanced local chirality and investigate the global chirality and ellipticity of emitted light in the far-field. Interestingly, we find that lossy materials with a complex dielectric function have the ability to generate global chirality when excited by achiral light. In particular, chiral plasmonic nanostructures are found to act as effective global chirality generators. The global interpretation of optical chirality provides a useful tool for biosensing applications with chiral plasmonic nanostructures, where the detection is routinely performed in the far-field.

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Author:Lisa Poulikakos, Philipp Gutsche, Kevin McPeak, Sven BurgerORCiD, Jens Niegemann, Christian Hafner, David Norris
Document Type:Poster
Parent Title (English):Frontiers in Nanophotonics (Congressi Stefano Franscini)
Year of first publication:2015
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