Abstract

An optical modulator is described which offers several advantages in terms of speed, aperture size, and ease of operation over other techniques for amplitude modulation of a collimated light beam. This simple device consists of a prism separated from a metallically reflecting surface by a small micron-size gap. Varying the gap thickness changes the intensity of the light reflected off the base of the prism. The prism acts as a coupler for the excitation of surface plasmons on the metallic surface. This paper explains the principle of operation and presents experimental results obtained on a simple realization of the device.

© 1981 Optical Society of America

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