We use cathodoluminescence imaging spectroscopy to excite surface plasmon polaritons and measure their decay length on single crystal and polycrystalline gold surfaces. The surface plasmon polaritons are excited on the gold surface by a nanoscale focused electron beam and are coupled into free space radiation by gratings fabricated into the surface. By scanning the electron beam on a line perpendicular to the gratings, the propagation length is determined. Data for single-crystal gold are in agreement with calculations based on dielectric constants. For polycrystalline films, grain boundary scattering is identified as additional loss mechanism, with a scattering coefficient SG=0.2%

Appl. Phys. Lett.
Photonic Materials

Kuttge, M., Vesseur, E. J. R., Verhoeven, J., Lezec, H. J., Atwater, H., & Polman, A. (2008). Loss mechanisms of surface plasmon polaritons on gold probed by cathodoluminescence imaging spectroscopy. Appl. Phys. Lett., 93(Article number: 113110), 1–3. doi:10.1063/1.2987458