We report the construction of diagnostics for ultrafast surface plasmon polariton (SPP) pulses that evolve spatiotemporally in femtosecond and nanometer scales. We constructed two types of scanning near-field optical microscopes (SNOMs) and verified that the temporal waveform of ultrafast SPP pulses can be measured by combining spectral interferometry (SI). In the illumination-collection (I-C) mode SNOM, which uses a single fiber probe to excite samples and collect optical responses, a lock-in detection scheme using a lock-in camera detects SI fringes even for extremely weak signal light pulses. With this I-C SI-SNOM scheme, we measured the complex plasmon response functions of gold (Au) nanorods on Ge2Sb2Te5 thin film, both in the crystal and amorphous phases. For a dual-probe SNOM (DSNOM), a dual-band modulation technique was introduced to independently control the probe-sample and probe–probe distances. With the DSNOM and by employing femtosecond SPP pulse excitation, we successfully measured the temporal waveform of an ultrafast SPP pulse that is propagating on an Au thin layer.
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