Direct observation of optical near field in nanophotonics devices at the nanoscale using Scanning Thermal Microscopy


Meir Grajower, Boris Desiatov, Ilya Goykhman, Liron Stern, Noa Mazurski, and Uriel Levy. 2015. “Direct observation of optical near field in nanophotonics devices at the nanoscale using Scanning Thermal Microscopy.” Optics Express.


© 2015 Optical Society of America.In recent years, following the miniaturization and integration of passive and active nanophotonic devices, thermal characterization of such devices at the nanoscale is becoming a task of crucial importance. The Scanning Thermal Microscopy (SThM) is a natural candidate for performing this task. However, it turns out that the SThM capability to precisely map the temperature of a photonic sample in the presence of light interacting with the sample is limited. This is because of the significant absorption of light by the SThM probe. As a result, the temperature of the SThM probe increases and a significant electrical signal which is directly proportional to the light intensity is obtained. As such, instead of measuring the temperature of the sample, one may directly measure the light intensity profile. While this is certainly a limitation in the context of thermal characterization of nanophotonic devices, this very property provides a new opportunity for optical near field characterization. In this paper we demonstrate numerically and experimentally the optical near field measurements of nanophotonic devices using a SThM probe. The system is characterized using several sets of samples with different properties and various wavelengths of operation. Our measurements indicate that the light absorption by the probe can be even larger than the light induced heat generation in the sample. The frequency response of the SThM system is characterized and the 3 dB frequency response was found to be ∼1.5 kHz. The simplicity of the SThM system which eliminates the need for complex optical measurement setups together with its broadband wavelength of operation makes this approach an attractive alternative to the more conventional aperture and apertureless NSOM approaches. Finally, referring to its original role in characterizing thermal effects at the nanoscale, we propose an approach for characterizing the temperature profile of nanophotonic devices which are heated by light absorption within the device. This is achieved by spatially separating between the optical near field distribution and the SThM probe, taking advantage of the broader temperature profile as compared to the more localized light profile.