Spatially confined vector fields at material-induced resonances in near-field-coupled systems

H. Aminpour, L. M. Eng, and S. C. Kehr


Local electric fields play the key role in near-field optical examinations and are especially appealing when exploring heterogeneous or even anisotropic nano-systems. Scattering-type near-field optical microscopy (s-SNOM) is the most commonly used method applied to explore and quantify such confined electric fields at the nanometer length scale: while most works so far did focus on analyzing the z-component oriented perpendicular to the sample surface under p-polarized tip/sample illumination only, recent experimental efforts in s-SNOM report that material resonant excitation might equally allow to probe in-plane electric field components. We thus explore this local vector-field behavior for a simple particle-tip/substrate system by comparing our parametric simulations based on finite element modelling at mid-IR wavelengths, to the standard analytical tip-dipole model. Notably, we analyze all the 4 different combinations for resonant and non-resonant tip and/or sample excitation. Besides the 3-dimensional field confinement under the particle tip present for all scenarios, it is particularly the resonant sample excitations that enable extremely strong field enhancements associated with vector fields pointing along all cartesian coordinates, even without breaking the tip/sample symmetry! In fact, in-plane (s-) resonant sample excitation exceeds the commonly-used p-polarized illumination on non-resonant samples by more than 6 orders of magnitude. Moreover, a variety of different spatial field distributions is found both at and within the sample surface, ranging from electric fields that are oriented strictly perpendicular to the sample surface, to fields that spatially rotate into different directions. Our approach shows that accessing the full vector fields in order to quantify all tensorial properties in nanoscale and modern-type materials lies well within the possibilities and scope of today's s-SNOM technique.

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