We detail a new ultrafast scanning tunneling microscopy technique called THz-STM that uses terahertz (THz) pulses coupled to the tip of a scanning tunneling microscope (STM) to directly modulate the STM bias voltage over subpicosecond time scales . In doing so, THz-STM achieves ultrafast time resolution via a mode complementary to normal STM operation, thus providing a general ultrafast probe for stroboscopic pump-probe measurements. We use THz-STM to image ultrafast carrier trapping into a single InAs nanodot and demonstrate simultaneous nanometer (2 nm) spatial resolution and subpicosecond (500 fs) temporal resolution in ambient conditions. Extending THz-STM to vacuum and low temperature operation has the potential to enable studies of a wide variety of subpicosecond dynamics on materials with atomic resolution.
We have recently developed an ultrafast terahertz-pulse-coupled scanning tunneling microscope (THz-STM) that can
image nanoscale dynamics with simultaneous 0.5 ps temporal resolution and 2 nm spatial resolution under ambient
conditions. Broadband THz pulses that are focused onto the metallic tip of an STM induce sub-picosecond voltage
transients across the STM junction, producing a rectified current signal due to the nonlinear tunnel junction currentvoltage
(I-V) relationship. We use the Simmons model to simulate a tunnel junction I-V curve whereby a THz pulse
induces an ultrafast voltage transient, generating milliamp-level rectified currents over sub-picosecond timescales. The
nature of the ultrafast field emission tunneling regime achieved in the THz-STM is discussed.