Cathodoluminescence imaging spectroscopy is used to determine the propagation distance of surface plasmon polaritons near the surface plasmon resonance on both silver and gold films. Surface plasmon polaritons are generated by a focused (diameter of 5 nm) electron beam spot in the metal and coupled out through a grating. By gradually varying the distance between the excitation spot and the grating the damping is probed. Propagation lengths as small as several hundred nanometers are probed, and an increase in propagation length is observed if the wavelength is increased above resonance. The measured data are compared with the calculated propagation lengths taking into account both absorption in the film and leakage radiation, and it is found that other loss mechanisms appear to be significant as well.
Appl. Phys. Lett.
Photonic Materials

van Wijngaarden, J. T., Verhagen, E., Polman, A., Ross, C. E., Lezec, H. J., & Atwater, H. (2006). Direct imaging of propagation and damping of near-resonance surface plasmon polaritons using cathodoluminescence spectroscopy. Appl. Phys. Lett., 88(Article number: 221111), 1–3. doi:10.1063/1.2208556