Paper: 2013 Near-Field Infrared Vibrational Dynamics and Tip-Enhanced Decoherence

Near-Field Infrared Vibrational Dynamics and Tip-Enhanced Decoherence

Reviews and Highlights Quantum Science Molecular and Soft-matter Ultrafast Nano-optics and Nanophotonics Mineralogy and Geochemistry

Xiaoji G. Xu and Markus B. Raschke
Nano Lett. 13, 1588 (2013)

Ultrafast infrared spectroscopy can reveal the dynamics of vibrational excitations in matter. In its conventional far-field implementation, however, it provides only limited insight into nanoscale sample volumes due to insufficient spatial resolution and sensitivity. Here, we combine scattering-scanning near-field optical microscopy (s-SNOM) with femtosecond infrared vibrational spectroscopy to characterize the coherent vibrational dynamics of a nanoscopic ensemble of C-F vibrational oscillators of polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). The near-field mode transfer between the induced vibrational molecular coherence and the metallic scanning probe tip gives rise to a tip-mediated radiative IR emission of the vibrational free-induction decay (FID). By increasing the tip-sample coupling, we can enhance the vibrational dephasing of the induced coherent vibrational polarization and associated IR emission, with dephasing times up to T2NF ~ 370 fs in competition against the intrinsic far-field lifetime of T2FF ~ 680 fs as dominated by nonradiative damping. Near-field antenna-coupling thus provides for a new way to modify vibrational decoherence. This approach of ultrafast s-SNOM enables the investigation of spatiotemporal dynamics and correlations with nanometer spatial and femtosecond temporal resolution.