Polarized evanescent waves reveal trochoidal dichroism
Matter’s sensitivity to light polarization is characterized by linear and circular polarization effects, corresponding to the system’s anisotropy and handedness, respectively. Recent investigations into the near-field properties of evanescent waves have revealed polarization states with out-of-phase transverse and longitudinal oscillations, resulting in trochoidal, or cartwheeling, field motion. Here, we demonstrate matter’s inherent sensitivity to the direction of the trochoidal field and name this property trochoidal dichroism. We observe trochoidal dichroism in the differential excitation of bonding and antibonding plasmon modes for a system composed of two coupled dipole scatterers. Trochoidal dichroism constitutes the observation of a geometric basis for polarization sensitivity that fundamentally differs from linear and circular dichroism. It could also be used to characterize molecular systems, such as certain light-harvesting antennas, with cartwheeling charge motion upon excitation.