When a free-space light beam hits a dielectric or metallic material, it cart launch electromagnetic modes bound to and traveling along the material’s surface (“surface polariton”1). Coupling is provided, e.g., by discontinuities of either dielectric or geometric properties of the surface. These modes usually decay rapidly on traveling away from their origin. Thus they may be important in the small scales dealt with in the laser surface treatment processes of lithography, annealing, etc.

© 1982 Optical Society of America

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