Abstract

Chiral materials possess some unusual properties for which they have attracted tremendous interest in recent research. In this paper, we discuss the interaction of electromagnetic fields with an initially isotropic material, making it anisotropic chiral by inducing magnetoelectric cross coupling. We consider a four-level double $\Lambda$-type configuration of an atomic ensemble, which is simultaneously sensitive to relative phase of the applied fields due to its closed-loop nature, providing an extra degree of freedom for controlling the birefringent nature of the medium. We show that the material splits a linearly polarized probe field into left- (LCP) and right-circularly polarized (RCP) components, and their angular divergence can be related to the optical activity of the medium. This leads to efficient modulation of the probe field, which may be helpful in accurate position detection of the transmitted beams and images. Next, we demonstrate that such a medium can be used to couple incident light with surface plasmons (SPs) in two ways: (1) as a prism-like coupler, in either Otto- or Kretschmann-type geometry, where excitation of SPs can be achieved beyond a certain incident angle of the interacting pulse in a plasmonic waveguide placed closed to it; and (2) direct excitation of SPs by a LCP or RCP beam from the chiral medium in a particular slit-type plasmonic waveguide. We find that the coupled modes in the latter case are unidirectional and highly tunable. Further, we show that the birefringent nature of the medium as well as the plasmonic field intensities can be efficiently manipulated with a number of controlling parameters. Our results may find applications in image coding, plasmonic sensors, and bio-photonics.

© 2020 Optical Society of America

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