We present a compact, all solid-state THz confocal microscope operating at 0.30 THz that achieves super-resolution by using the knife-edge scan approach. In the final reconstructed image, a lateral resolution of 60 μm ≈ λ/17 is demonstrated when the knife-edge is deep in the near-field of the sample surface. When the knife-edge is lifted up to λ/4 from the sample surface, a certain degree of super-resolution is maintained with a resolution of 0.4 mm, i.e. more than a factor 2 if compared to the diffraction-limited scheme. The present results open an interesting path towards super-resolved imaging with in-depth information that would be peculiar to THz microscopy systems.
We present mid-infrared vibrational spectroscopy and imaging at the nanoscale of individual cell membranes deposited on ultraflat gold substrate by use of resonantly-enhanced mechanical photoexpansion technique. This platform allows one to measure the energy absorbed by the sample by monitoring its local thermal expansion with a nanometer atomic force microscope tip. The observed Amide-I and Amide-II bands of proteins in the spectrum acquired on individual purple membrane flakes, filled with bacteriorhodopsin (bR) molecules, are in good agreement with the far-field infrared spectrum collected on large numbers of membranes. Differences among the relative intensity of the two Amide bands in the near- and far-field spectra are attributed to different orientation of bR protein molecules in the two samples. Strong vibrational contrast imaging at the Amide-I of proteins with a lateral resolution of around 50 nm is reported for individual flakes of both purple membranes and artificial lipid vesicles loaded with channelrhodospin molecules.
Plasmonic nanoantenna designs are quickly evolving in the direction of practical molecular sensing applications hence their wavelength range is being extended from the visible towards the mid-infrared. The problem of obtaining, in the mid-infrared, the same degree of plasmonic confinement obtained with gold in the visible range is related to the perfect conductor behavior of metals at long wavelengths. Here we fabricated bow-tie nanoantennas made of bottom-up assembled “metallic germanium” with free electron density of the order of 1020 cm-3 and therefore short plasma wavelength of 4.5 μm. We demonstrate the existence in the antenna gaps of confined hotspots with radius of the order of 100 nm, which we imaged by near-field photoexpansion microscopy at a wavelength of 5.8 μm in order to provide a clear proof of strong field confinement in the mid-infrared.
The use of heavily doped semiconductors to achieve plasma frequencies in the mid-IR has been recently proposed as a promising way to obtain high-quality and tunable plasmonic materials. We introduce a plasmonic platform based on epitaxial n-type Ge grown on standard Si wafers by means of low-energy plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition. Due to the large carrier concentration achieved with P dopants and to the compatibility with the existing CMOS technology, SiGe plasmonics hold promises for mid-IR applications in optoelectronics, IR detection, sensing, and light harvesting. As a representative example, we show simulations of mid-IR plasmonic waveguides based on the experimentally retrieved dielectric constants of the grown materials.
We measured the nonlinear response of field effect transistors fabricated with GaAs-based heterostructures by
performing direct detection, heterodyne and subharmonic mixing measurements. The study of the spectral responsivity
as a function of different antenna coupling is presented in the 0.18-0.4 GHz range. We also verified the subharmonic
and heterodyne mixing at 0.6 THz in a HFET detector with a broadband antenna.
We present the realization of high electron mobility transistors on GaN-heterostructures usable for mixing and rectification in the THz range. Device fabrication is fully compatible with industrial processes employed for millimetre wave integrated circuits. On-chip, integrated, polarization-sensitive, planar antennas were designed to allow selective coupling of THz radiation to the three terminals of field effect transistors in order to explore different mixing schemes for frequencies well above the cutoff frequency for amplification. The polarization dependence of the spectral response in the 0.18-0.40 THz range clearly demonstrated the possible use as integrated heterodyne mixers.
We studied mid-infrared sensors based on the wavelength shift of Surface Plasmon Polariton resonances upon solid
substance deposition on subwavelength hole arrays in a thin metal film (metal meshes). We present an experimental and
numerical investigation of the mid-infrared transmission of metal meshes with and without a dielectric substrate, and we
develop an analytical model which describes the Fano interference between the Bethe continuum and the SPP
resonances. Fitting the differential transmission signal, measured before and after deposition of a target solid film, we
demonstrate sensitivity down to few molecular monolayers, at least one order of magnitude better than mid-infrared
vibrational spectroscopy. Sensor calibration was performed on thin polymer films and an example of real application is
then provided by measuring the optical density of phospholipid membrane complexes with thickness in the range 2-10