Does the real part contain all the physical information?

T. V. Raziman, O. J.F. Martin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Polarisation charge formed on nanostructure surfaces upon optical excitation provides a useful tool to understand the underlying physics of plasmonic systems. Plasmonic simulations in the frequency domain typically calculate the polarisation charge as a complex quantity. In this paper, we provide a pedagogical treatment of the complex nature of the polarisation charge and its relevance in plasmonics, and discuss how naively extracting the real part of the complex quantities to obtain physical information can lead to pitfalls. We analyse the charge distributions on various plasmonic systems and explain how to understand and visualise them clearly using techniques such as phase-correction and polarisation ellipse representation, to extract the underlying physical information.

Original languageEnglish
Article number095002
Pages (from-to)1-10
JournalJournal of Optics
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • complex numbers
  • numerical methods
  • plasmonics
  • polarisation charge
  • surface integral equation
  • surface plasmons


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