Infrared Vibrational Nano-Spectroscopy by Self-Referenced Interferometry

By: Benjamin Pollard, Francisco C. B. Maia, Markus B. Raschke, Raul O. Freitas

Nano Letters 16, 55 (2016)

Infrared vibrational scattering scanning near-field optical microscopy (s-SNOM) has emerged as a new frontier in imaging science due to its potential to provide nanoscale spatially resolved chemical spectroscopy for the investigation of molecular, soft-matter, and biological materials. As a phase-sensitive technique able to yield the full complex dielectric function of materials, different interferometric schemes have been developed involving asymmetric interferometry between sample and reference arms. In this work, we take advantage of a greatly simplified symmetric geometry that uses the spatially coherent background scattered light from within the confocal sample volume as a reference field for signal amplification in both self-homodyne and self-heterodyne interferometry. On the basis of a simple model for tip?sample scattering and interferometric detection, we demonstrate the measurement of the vibrational response of molecular materials in good agreement with established values. In addition to a compact design, enhanced signal levels, and a reduced sensitivity to fluctuations and drift, including those from the light source, self-referenced interferometry brings benefits for routine s-SNOM chemical spectroscopy, remaining robust even under a wide range of challenging experimental environments.