A terahertz near-field nanoscopy revealing edge fringes with a fast and highly sensitive quantum-well photodetector

F. Qiu, G. You, Z. Tan, W. Wan, C. Wang, X. Liu, X. Chen, R. Liu, H. Tao, Z. Fu, H. Li and J. Cao

iScience 25, 104637 (2022)
We demonstrate the successful implementation of a terahertz (THz) quantum-well photodetector (QWP) for effective signal collection in a scattering-type scanning near-field optical microscope (s-SNOM) system. The light source is an electrically pumped THz quantum cascade laser (QCL) at 4.2 THz, which spectrally matches with the peak photoresponse of THz QWP. The sensitive THz QWP has a low noise equivalent power (NEP) of about 1.1 pW/Hz0.5 and a spectral response range from 2 to 7 THz. The fast-responding capability of the THz QWP is vital for detecting the rapidly tip-modulated THz light which can effectively suppress the background noise. The THz images of the nanostructure demonstrate a spatial resolution of about 95 nm, corresponding to ∼λ/752 at 4.2 THz. We experimentally investigate and theoretically interpret the formation of the fringes which appear at the edge position of a gold stripe in the THz near-field image.