Manipulating nanoscale light in nanocavity of scanning tunneling microscope junctions

June 06, 2019

Spatial resolution of optical microscopy and spectroscopy is determined by how much one can confine light in space, which is usually restricted to about half-micrometer at the best due to the diffraction limit. However, light can be confined into nanometer scale by using metallic nanostructures through excitation of localized surface plasmon resonance (LSPR). Having such "nanolight" at a sharp metallic tip is particularly useful because it can be used in scanning tunneling luminescence (STL) and scattering-type scanning near-field optical microscopy (s-SNOM) performing nanoscale imaging and spectroscopy to look at nanomaterials and even single molecules. However, precise manipulation of nanolight in nanoscale junction has remained an outstanding problem. Because the nature of nanolight (LSPR) is determined by the nanoscopic structure of the tip, its manipulation requires a fine processing technique at the nanoscale. In addition, nanolight confined into nanocavities is of key importance due to the strong enhancement effect of an electromagnetic field, which enables ultrasensitive nanoscale imaging and spectroscopy.

A research team at the Fritz-Haber Institute in Berlin, headed by Dr. Takashi Kumagai, now demonstrated that manipulation of nanolight spectrum can be attained by shaping accurately plasmonic gold tips with a focused ion beam (FIB) milling technique. As an exemplary demonstration, they produced a very sharp tip with a single groove on its shaft as shown in the scanning electron microscope picture. The spectral response of nanolight confined in the nanocavity formed by the grooved tip and an atomically flat silver surface was investigated by using STL that is the combination of electronic and optical spectroscopies using scanning tunneling microscopy. The STML spectra with the grooved tips exhibit a characteristic modulation resulting from Fabry-Pérot type interference of surface plasmon polaritons (SPPs) on the tip shaft as the standing wave formation is visualized in the electrodynamic simulation. The spectral modulation can be precisely controlled by the groove position on the shaft. They also demonstrated that the SPP Fabry-Pérot interference can be improved by optimizing the overall tip shape.

This work shows a great potential of the combination of scanning probe techniques and nano-fabrication of plasmonic tips using FIB in order to study the nature of nanolight and light-matter interactions in nanocavities, which are an important frontier of plasmonics and nanooptics. In addition, the FIB-fabricated plasmonic tips are generally applicable to s-SNOM techniques, thus paving the way for nanoscale imaging and spectroscopy with a high degree of accuracy. Moreover, spectral control of the intense near-field at the apex of plasmonic tips may open up new opportunities for the realization of coherent laser-triggered electron point sources for low-energy electron microscopy and holography techniques.

Japan Science and Technology Agency

Related Nanoscale Articles from Brightsurf:

Nanoscale machines convert light into work
Researchers have developed a tiny new machine that converts laser light into work.

Discovery will allow more sophisticated work at nanoscale
The movement of fluids through small capillaries and channels is crucial for processes ranging from blood flow through the brain to power generation and electronic cooling systems, but that movement often stops when the channel is smaller than 10 nanometers.

Valley-Hall nanoscale lasers
Topological photonics allows the creation of new states of light.

Dynamics of DNA replication revealed at the nanoscale
Using super-resolution technology a University of Technology Sydney led team has directly visualised the process of DNA replication in single human cells.

House cleaning on the nanoscale
A team of scientists at Friedrich-Alexander Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) has developed a novel mechanical cleaning method for surfaces on the nanoscale.

As electronics shrink to nanoscale, will they still be good as gold?
As circuit interconnects shrink to nanoscale, will the pressure caused by thermal expansion when current flows through wires cause gold to behave more like a liquid than a solid -- making nanoelectronics unreliable?

A joint venture at the nanoscale
Scientists at Argonne National Laboratory report fabricating and testing a superconducting nanowire device applicable to high-speed photon counting.

Bending diamond at the nanoscale
A team of Australian scientists has discovered diamond can be bent and deformed, at the nanoscale at least.

Creating a nanoscale on-off switch for heat
Researchers create a polymer thermal regulator that can quickly transform from a conductor to an insulator, and back again.

Magnetic tuning at the nanoscale
Physicists from the German research center Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) are working to produce engineered magnetic nanostructures and to tailor material properties at the nanoscale.

Read More: Nanoscale News and Nanoscale Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to