In the Cherenkov effect a charged particle moving with a velocity faster than the phase velocity of light in the medium radiates light that forms a cone with a half angle determined by the ratio of the two speeds. In this paper, we show that by creating a running wave of polarization along a one dimensional metallic nanostructure consisting of subwavelength spaced rotated apertures that propagates faster than the surface plasmon polariton phase velocity, we can generate surface plasmon wakes, which are the two-dimensional analogue of Cherenkov radiation. The running wave of polarization travels with a speed determined by the angle of incidence and the photon spin angular momentum. We utilize this running wave of polarization to demonstrate controlled steering of the wakes by changing both the angle of incidence and the polarization of light, which we measure through near-field scanning optical microscopy.

© 2015 Optical Society of America

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