Announcing Vista 200

Check out our new semiconductor-specific instrument

Linear and Nonlinear Optical Spectroscopy at the Nanoscale with Photoinduced Force Microscopy

Jahng, J., Fishman, DA., Park, S., Nowak, DB., Morrison, WA., Wickramasinghe, HK., Potma, EO.
Acc Chem Res


The enormous advances made in nanotechnology have also intensified the need for tools that can characterize newly synthesized nanoaterials with high sensitivity and with high spatial resolution. Many existing tools with nanoscopic resolution or better, including scanning electron microscopy (SEM), atomic force microscopy (AFM), and scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) methods, can generate highly detailed maps of nanoscopic structures. However, while these approaches provide great views of the morphological properties of nanomaterials, it has proven more challenging to derive chemical information from the corresponding images. To address this issue, attempts have been made to dress existing nanoscopy methods with spectroscopic sensitivity. A powerful approach in this direction is the combination of scan probe techniques with optical illumination, which aims to marry the nanoscopic resolution provided by a sharp tip with the chemical selectivity provided by optical spectroscopy. Examples of this approach include existing techniques such as scattering-type scanning near-field optical microscopy and tip-enhanced Raman spectroscopy. A new and emerging technique in this direction is photoinduced force microscopy (PiFM), which enables spectroscopic probing of materials with a spatial resolution well under 10 nm. In PiFM, the sample is optically excited and the response of the material is probed directly in the near-field by reading out the time-integrated force between the tip and the sample. Because the magnitude of the force is dependent on the photoinduced polarization in the sample, PiFM exhibits spectroscopic sensitivity. The photoinduced forces measured in PiFM are spatially confined on the nanometer scale, which translates into a very high spatial resolution even under ambient conditions. The PiFM approach is compatible with a wide range optical excitation frequencies, from the visible to the mid-infrared, enabling nanoscale imaging contrast based on either electronic or vibrational transitions in the sample. These properties make PiFM an attractive method for the visualization and spectroscopic characterization of a vast variety of nano materials, from semiconducting nanoparticles to polymer thin films to sensitive measurements of single molecules. In this Account, we review the principles of the PiFM technique and discuss the basic components of the photoinduced force microscope. We highlight the imaging properties of the PiFM instrument and demonstrate the inherent spectroscopic sensitivity of the technique. Furthermore, we show that the PiFM approach can be used to probe both the linear and nonlinear optical properties of nano materials. In addition, we provide several examples of PiFM imaging applications.

DOI: 10.1021/acs.accounts.5b00327