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METIQUM Report Summary

Project ID: 339306
Funded under: FP7-IDEAS-ERC
Country: Netherlands

Mid-Term Report Summary - METIQUM (Mesoscopic THz impedance microscopy for quantum materials)

The goal of our project is to develop a scanning impedance microscope operating in the THz frequency range to enable the study of materials, which contain a buried inhomogeneous electronic landscape. The project is timely because of a number of problems appearing in the study of quantum materials. It is also timely because of the advances in the past decade on sensitive THz instrumentation for astronomy, which forms the technological background for our project.
In the initial stages of our project we have purchased the newly developed scanning microwave impedance microscope (SMIM) based on an AFM-system equipped with a microwave cantilevers and control system. We have used this system to explore a number of real-life problems of which we carried one of them, on the conduction in black phosphorus (BP) fully to a publication. This material is hygroscopy, which change sits conductivity. By covering it with boron-nitride the deleterious effect of atmospheric water on BP could be followed in great detail. The deleterious effect turned out to be substantially reduced by capping. We use this kind of studies at room temperature to develop also insight in the requirements for our Terahertz Imaging Microscope (TIM). We require for our TIM various temperatures down to cryogenic temperatures at a minimum of complexity, which led us to collaborate with specialized companies. We have purchased a table-top closed cycle cooler, equipped with a cryogenic positioning stage. We are currently implementing and evaluating this set-up with scanning microwave impedance microscopy, based on assembly of purchased components. Within these equipment-boundaries we are simultaneously in the process of developing the signal path for the THz signal for which we borrow heavily from solutions developed for THz instruments. After comparing various quasi-optical solutions, attractive because of their broad band nature we have decided to focus on a waveguide solution for better control at the expense of loosing on bandwidth. Various details have been developed and tested and the full integration is now being prepared. It remains a challenge but it appears that we are on the right track at the right time.

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