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Departamento de Física de la Materia Condensada

Seminario: "The light at the end of the tunnel: Nanophotonics with STM"

The light at the end of the tunnel: Nanophotonics with STM
Dpto. de Física de la Materia Condensada
Prof. Roberto Otero, Facultad de Ciencias, UAM
Evento online, MS-TEAMS, “Seminarios del Departamento”

Light-matter interactions at the nanoscale show a very rich physical phenomenology with potential for new and disruptive applications in fields as diverse as quantum computation, catalysis or ultrasentive biosensors. For example, when light is confined in nanometer-scale gaps between two metal surfaces, and individual quantum emitters are placed in the gap, the light and matter excitations can become inextricably coupled, leading to very interesting effects such as Rabi oscillations and splitting, which can be used to generate entangled photons for quantum cryptography, or to promote specific chemical reactions through the modification of molecular excited states. In this context, luminescence excited by injection of a tunnel current in the gap between the tip and the sample of a Scanning Tunnelling Microscope (STM) is emerging as a promising technique, enabling the characterization of the optical properties of quantum emitters at solid surfaces even with submolecular resolution. However, there is a notable lack of understanding of the physical principles that control the luminescence produced by tunnelling electrons, which is a severe drawback for this technique to become relevant in the field of Nanophotonics.

In this seminar I will offer an introductory view of the interesting new optical phenomena that appear in nanoscale systems, with emphasis on those that have been explored by state-of-the-art STM luminescence. I will show the enormous successes already achieved by this technique, such as measuring Raman signals with intramolecular resolution, or measuring the optical response of custom designed systems built molecule by molecule; but I will also describe the many intriguing mysteries that still remain controversial. I will finish by describing our own recent efforts to unravel such mysteries, including our realization of the role for electronic-structure factors in plasmonic spectra, our measure of the temperature dynamics induced by single-electron injection, or our recent success to detect optical resonances in single molecules adsorbed on metal surfaces.


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