Light through a blocked hole? Plasmonics is the answer: The team was shining light down an optical fibre that tapered to a 100-nanometre-wide aperture. At first, barely any light made it through the aperture; instead, it was reflected back up the fibre. But when the researchers placed a small gold disc very close to the aperture, so that it completely eclipsed the hole without actually touching it, the light started streaming through (see graphic, right).
They suspect that plasmons from the gold disc are leaping up through the hole, grabbing the photons stuck inside the fibre and dragging them through. These photons then stream around the edges of the disc.