Abstract

Femtosecond laser pulse shaping techniques have been restricted to propagating transverse electromagnetic waves. We present a scheme for pulse shaping of optical near fields based on the excitation of longitudinal electromagnetic fields with polarization-shaped light pulses. By solving Maxwell’s equations for a model nanostructure, i.e., a scanning tunneling microscope tip, with help from the boundary-element method, we demonstrate that the electric field vector oscillates in a complex yet controllable fashion in three dimensions. Many applications are envisioned because literally another dimension in the optimal control of light–matter interaction is accessible.

© 2004 Optical Society of America

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