As conventional electronics approaches its ultimate limits, novel concepts of fast quantum control have been sought after. Lightwave electronics – the foundation of attosecond science – has opened a new arena by utilizing the oscillating carrier wave of intense light pulses to control electrons faster than a cycle of light. We employ atomically strong terahertz electromagnetic pulses to accelerate electrons through the entire Brillouin zone of solids, drive quasiparticle collisions, and generate high-harmonic radiation as well as high-order sidebands. The unique band structures of topological insulators allow for all-ballistic and quasi-relativistic acceleration of Dirac quasiparticles over distances as large as 0.5 μm. In monolayers of transition metal dichalcogenides, we switch the electrons’ valley pseudospin, opening the door to subcycle valleytronics. Finally, we show that lightwave electronics can be combined with ultimate atomic spatial resolution in state-selective ultrafast scanning tunneling microscopy.
Terahertz spectroscopy plays a key role in understanding ultrafast carrier dynamics in nanomaterials. Diffraction, however, limits time-resolved terahertz spectroscopy to ensemble measurements. By combining time-resolved terahertz spectroscopy in the multi-terahertz range with scattering-type near-field scanning optical microscopy, we show that we can directly trace ultrafast local carrier dynamics in single nanoparticles with sub-cycle temporal resolution (10 fs). Our microscope provides both 10 nm lateral resolution and tomographic sensitivity, allowing us to observe the ultrafast build-up of a local surface depletion layer in an InAs nanowire.
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.
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.
Nonlinear dynamics of free-carriers in direct bandgap semiconductors at terahertz (THz) frequencies is studied using
intense few-cycle pulses. Techniques as Z-scan, THz-pump / THz-probe, and optical-pump/ THz-probe are employed to
explore nonlinear interactions in both n-doped and photoexcited systems. The physical mechanism that gives rise to such
interactions is found to be intervalley scattering.