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Experiment and theory of plasmon coupling physics, wave effects and their study by electron spectroscopies

Abstract : Surface plasmons (SP) are electromagnetic waves propagating at the interface between two media typically a metal and a dielectric. SPs can confine electromagnetic fields in very short volumes (typically one to few nanometers), well below the light diffraction limit. This property has a tremendous number of applications ranging from fundamental physics (e.g. quantum optics) to applications (e.g. cancer therapy). However, the price to pay is that SPs suffer from huge ohmic losses in the metal which leads to very short lifetimes (typically few femtoseconds). Theoretically, this presence of dissipation dramatically hardens the theoretical description of SPs. Another consequence of the sub-wavelength confinement of light associated with SPs is that their observation requires a nanometric resolution - which excludes the use of standard optical techniques. Yet, the scanning transmission electron microscope (STEM) is a particularly suitable tool to study SPs as it employs fast electrons with typical wavelength from 1 to 10 picometers. Thus, the last decade has seen the tremendous development of electron-based spectroscopies applied to nano-optics such as electron energy loss spectroscopy (EELS), cathodoluminescence spectroscopy (CL) or STEM- Hanbury Brown and Twiss interferometry (HBT). In this thesis, I explored different open problems of plasmonics and nano-optics under the scope of electron microscopy and spectroscopies. In chapter 3, I develop a formalism taking into account both the quantum and relativistic nature of EELS experiments using elements of quantum field theory. In chapter 4, I apply the latter formalism to the case of EELS measurements of SPs using electrons with shaped phase. In chapter 5, I give several theoretical and experimental results on coupling experiments involving SPs. Particularly, I demonstrate a counterintuitive type of coupling, the so-called self- hybridization which is a consequence of the non-Hermitian nature of the LSP eigenproblem and draw analogy with open quantum system. Finally, in chapter 6, I discuss the recent result on vibrational EELS in monochromated STEM.
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Hugo Lourenço-Martins. Experiment and theory of plasmon coupling physics, wave effects and their study by electron spectroscopies. Condensed Matter [cond-mat]. Université Paris Saclay (COmUE), 2018. English. ⟨NNT : 2018SACLS284⟩. ⟨tel-01924457⟩

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