Interference of surface plasmons and Smith-Purcell emission probed by angle-resolved cathodoluminescence spectroscopy
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We investigate the interplay between geometrical lattice resonances and surface plasmons mediating the emission of Smith-Purcell visible light via angle-resolved cathodoluminescence spectroscopy. We observe strong modulations in the dispersion curves of Smith-Purcell radiation (SPR) when they intersect the surface plasmons of silver gratings using a 200-kV transmission electron microscope. The decay of the plasmons away from the grating is directly probed by controlling the electron-beam position relative to the sample surface with nanometer precision. Our measurements are in excellent agreement with numerical simulations, clearly revealing the presence of characteristic Fano profiles resulting from the interference of the light continuum and the discrete plasmon states for each direction of emission. The intensity anomaly in the SPR emission pattern can be well explained from the geometrical consideration of the intersections between the dispersion planes of the SPR and surface plasmon polariton (SPP). A strong and directional SPR beam can be realized under the condition that the SPR dispersion plane comes in contact with the band edge of the SPP dispersion plane.