Terahertz Nanoscopy of Plasmonic Resonances with a Quantum Cascade Laser30 Oct 2017
We present a terahertz (THz) scattering near-field optical microscope (s-SNOM) based on a quantum cascade laser implemented as both source and detector in a self-mixing scheme utilizing resonant quartz tuning forks as a sensitive nanopositioning element. The homemade s-SNOM, based on a resonant tuning fork and metallic tip, operates in tapping mode with a spatial resolution of ∼78 nm. The quantum cascade laser is realized from a bound-to-continuum active region design with a central emission of ∼2.85 THz, which has been lens-coupled in order to maximize the feedback into the laser cavity. Accordingly, the spatial resolution corresponds to >λ/1000. The s-SNOM has been used to investigate a bidimensional plasmonic photonic crystal and to observe the optical resonant modes supported by coupled plasmonic planar antennas, showing remarkable agreement with the theoretical predictions. The compactness, unique sensitivity, and fast acquisition capability of this approach make the proposed s-SNOM a unique tool for solid-state investigations and biomedical imaging.