The power-flow lines of light interacting with a metallic nanoparticle, in the proximity of its plasmon resonance, form whirlpool-like nanoscale optical vortices. These vortices were independently observed using analytical Mie theory and 3D finite element numerical modelling of the Maxwell equations. Two different types of vortex have been detected. The outward vortex first penetrates the particle near its centerline then, on exiting the particle, the flow-lines turn away from the centerline and enter a spiral trajectory. Outward vortices are seen for the wavelengths shorter then the plasmon resonance. For the wavelengths longer that the plasmon resonance the vortex is inward: the power-flow lines pass around the sides of the particle before turning towards the centerline and entering the particle to begin their spiral trajectory.
© 2005 Optical Society of America
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