Abstract

We experimentally and theoretically analyze the radiation emitted from subwavelength-sized apertures in near-field optical probes. By decomposing the experimentally obtained radiation patterns into vector spherical waves, we describe the fields in terms of a series of multipole sources. We fit polarization-resolved angular intensity distributions, measured as far as 150° from the normal, with dipole, quadrupole, and octupole radiation. We find that the magnetic and the electric dipole components are dominant but that the interference terms between dipoles and higher-order poles are not negligible. This result can be used as the basis for understanding near-field optical interactions and images.

© 2000 Optical Society of America

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