Thermal Infrared Near-Field Spectroscopy

By: Andrew C. Jones and Markus B. Raschke

Nano Letters 12, 1475−1481 (2012)

Despite the seminal contributions of Kirchhoff and Planck describing far-field thermal emission, fundamentally distinct spectral characteristics of the electromagnetic thermal near-field have been predicted. However, due to their evanescent nature their direct experimental characterization has remained elusive. Combining scattering scanning near-field optical microscopy with Fourier-transform spectroscopy using a heated atomic force microscope tip as both a local thermal source and scattering probe, we spectroscopically characterize the thermal near-field in the mid-infrared. We observe the spectrally distinct and orders of magnitude enhanced resonant spectral near-field energy density associated with vibrational, phonon, and phonon−polariton modes. We describe this behavior and the associated distinct on- and off-resonance nanoscale field localization with model calculations of the near-field electromagnetic local density of states. Our results provide a basis for intrinsic and extrinsic resonant manipulation of optical forces, control of nanoscale radiative heat transfer with optical antennas, and use of this new technique of thermal infrared near-field spectroscopy for broadband chemical nanospectroscopy.