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Near-field Spectroscopic Nanotomography at Infrared and Terahertz Frequencies

Objective

Fundamental understanding and engineering of composite materials, biological structures and building
blocks for electrical and optical devices of nanoscale dimensions necessitate the availability of advanced
microscopy tools for mapping their local chemical, structural and free-carrier properties. But while optical
spectroscopy, particularly in the infrared (IR) and terahertz (THz) frequency range, has tremendous merit in
measuring such properties optically, the diffraction-limited spatial resolution has been preventing IR and
THz microscopy applications for the longest time to be used in nanoscale materials and device analysis, bioimaging,
industrial failure analysis and quality control.
During the last years we pioneered the field of IR and THz near-field microscopy, which allows twodimensional
(2D) spectroscopic IR and THz imaging of a sample surface with nanoscale spatial resolution,
independent of the wavelength. Key achievements of our work are the nanoscale resolved near-field mapping
of chemical compositions of polymer blends, mechanical strain fields in ceramics and free-carrier
concentrations in doped semiconductor transistors.
The core objective of this proposal is to develop a three-dimensional (3D) spectroscopic imaging method in
a wide spectral range between infrared (IR) and terahertz (THz) frequencies with nanoscale spatial
resolution, a method that does not and not even nearly exist today. Our approach will be based on scatteringtype
scanning near-field optical microscopy (s-SNOM), even though s-SNOM is generally considered to be a
surface mapping technique. Instead of scanning the surface, it is proposed to scan a volume above the sample
surface. By using appropriate reconstruction methods, the three-dimensional structure of the sample volume
below the sample surface could be obtained in principle. We recently conducted a theoretical study, which
confirmed the fundamental feasibility of this novel approach that shall be experimentally realized within this
proposal.
The proposed method of IR and THz nanotomography could become a new paradigm in nanoscale optical
imaging. Near-field nanotomography will have the potential to open new and even unexpected avenues for
optical characterization throughout all nanosciences, such as non-invasive, chemical identification of single
(biological) nanoparticles in complex 3D-nanostructures or the measurement of the local free-carrier
concentration and mobility in semiconductor nanowires or devices with 3D-architecture.

Call for proposal

ERC-2010-StG_20091028
See other projects for this call

Host institution

ASOCIACION CENTRO DE INVESTIGACIONCOOPERATIVA EN NANOCIENCIAS CIC NANOGUNE
Address
Tolosa Hiribidea 76
20018 San Sebastian
Spain
Activity type
Research Organisations
EU contribution
€ 1 455 600
Principal investigator
Rainer Hillenbrand (Dr.)
Administrative Contact
Miguel Odriozola Braconier (Mr.)

Beneficiaries (1)

ASOCIACION CENTRO DE INVESTIGACIONCOOPERATIVA EN NANOCIENCIAS CIC NANOGUNE
Spain
EU contribution
€ 1 455 600
Address
Tolosa Hiribidea 76
20018 San Sebastian
Activity type
Research Organisations
Principal investigator
Rainer Hillenbrand (Dr.)
Administrative Contact
Miguel Odriozola Braconier (Mr.)