Polarization vortices exist in the focus of a class of vector beams, the lowest order of which possess full vector symmetry about the axis of propagation of the beam. At high numerical apertures these beams are known to exhibit large, local, longitudinal fields in the focal region. At an interface these fields can be many times stronger than the largest available transverse component and are therefore candidates for a variety of different experiments in surface physics. The observation of vortex-driven surface second-harmonic generation at smooth metal and semiconductor surfaces and thin films is reported. By comparing the response to that of a purely transverse field, we show that the smooth surface responds primarily to the longitudinal field component.
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