Nanoscale conductivity contrast by scattering-type near-field optical microscopy in the visible, infrared and THz domains

F. Keilmann, A. Huber, and R. Hillenbrand

Journal of Infrared, Millimeter and Terahertz Waves 30, 1255 (2009)
We demonstrate the wide application potential of optical near-field microscopy for mapping samples with locally varying conductivity. The apertureless, scattering-type optical near-field microscope (s-SNOM) operates on an AFM basis with an added light-scattering channel, wherein a standard cantilevered tip suffices to accomodate the full spectral range from visible to THz frequencies. The optical maps appear in amplitude and phase contrast, simultaneously with the topography map, at a spatial resolution of typically 20 nm. Visible and near-infrared operation is best suited for distinguishing metals, while a sensitive response to semiconductors is ideally provided with infrared and THz operation. Various types of conductivity spectral features can be explored in specific regions, corresponding to the elementary excitation linked to e.g. superconductivity, electron correlation, or low-dimensional conduction.