Femtosecond Nanofocusing with Full Optical Waveform Control

By: Samuel Berweger, Joanna M. Atkin, Xiaoji G. Xu, Robert L. Olmon, and Markus B. Raschke

Nano Letters 11, 4309 (2011)

The simultaneous nanometer spatial confinement and femtosecond temporal control of an optical excitation has been a long-standing challenge in optics. Previous approaches using surface plasmon polariton (SPP) resonant nanostructures or SPP waveguides have suffered from, for example, mode mismatch, or possible dependence on the phase of the driving laser field to achieve spatial localization. Here we take advantage of the intrinsic phase- and amplitude-independent nanofocusing ability of a conical noble metal tip with weak wavelength dependence over a broad bandwidth to achieve a 10 nm spatially and few-femtosecond temporally confined excitation. In combination with spectral pulse shaping and feedback on the second-harmonic response of the tip apex, we demonstrate deterministic arbitrary optical waveform control. In addition, the high efficiency of the nanofocusing tip provided by the continuous micro- to nanoscale mode transformation opens the door for spectroscopy of elementary optical excitations in matter on their natural length and time scales and enables applications from ultrafast nano-opto-electronics to single molecule quantum coherent control.