Helicity-preserving optical cavity modes for enhanced sensing of chiral molecules

  • Author:

    J. Feis, D. Beutel, J. Köpfler, X. Garcia-Santiago, C. Rockstuhl, M. Wegener, I. Fernandez-Corbaton

  • Source:

    arXiv:1907.05207 [physics.optics]

  • Date: 11.07.2019
  • Abstract:

    Researchers routinely sense molecules by their infrared vibrational "fingerprint" absorption resonances. In addition, the dominant handedness of chiral molecules can be detected by circular dichroism (CD), the normalized difference between their optical response to incident left- and right- handed circularly polarized light. Here, we introduce a cavity composed of two parallel arrays of helicity-preserving silicon disks that allows to enhance the CD signal by more than two orders of magnitude for a given molecule concentration and given thickness of the cell containing the molecules. The underlying principle is first-order diffraction into helicity-preserving modes with large transverse momentum and long lifetimes. In sharp contrast, in a conventional Fabry-Perot cavity, each reflection flips the handedness of light, leading to large intensity enhancements inside the cavity, yet to smaller CD signals than without the cavity.