Parabolic mirrors with a high numerical aperture can be conveniently used to produce highly confined optical fields in the focal region. Furthermore, these fields can have interesting polarization behaviour due to the high numerical aperture. In particular, if the mirror is illuminated with a size matched radially polarized or azimuthally polarized doughnut mode, the electric field has in the focal region almost exclusively a longitudinal or a transverse polarization component. Such field distributions are interesting for applications in confocal or near-field optical microscopy. Here we present experimental results where we have probed some of these field distributions by raster scanning a fine gold tip in nanometer steps through the focal region and detecting the scattered light intensity. The measured intensity patterns are compared with corresponding vector-field calculations.
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