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Nano-optics

Scientific highlights

Spatially Resolved Quantum Nano-Optics of Single Photons Using an Electron Microscope

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We report on the experimental demonstration of single-photon state generation and characterization in an electron microscope. In this aim we have used low intensity relativistic (energy between 60 and 100 keV) electrons beams focused in a ca. 1 nm probe to excite diamond nanoparticles. This triggered individual neutral nitrogen-vacancy centers to emit photons which could be gathered and sent to a Hanbury Brown-Twiss intensity interferometer. The detection of a dip in the correlation function at small time delays clearly demonstrates antibunching and thus the creation of nonclassical light states. Specifically, we have also demonstrated single-photon states detection. We unveil the mechanism behind quantum states generation in an electron microscope, and show that it clearly makes cathodoluminescence the nanometer scale analog of photoluminescence. By using an extremely small electron probe size and the ability to monitor its position with subnanometer resolution, we also show the possibility of measuring the quantum character of the emitted beam with deep subwavelength resolution. Read more »

Visualizing highly localized luminescence in GaN/AlN heterostructures in nanowires

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The optical properties of a stack of GaN/AlN quantum discs (QDiscs) in a GaN nanowire have been studied by spatially resolved cathodoluminescence (CL) at the nanoscale (nanoCL) using a scanning transmission electron microscope (STEM) operating in spectrum imaging mode. For the electron beam excitation in the QDisc region, the luminescence signal is highly localized, with spatial extent as low as 5 nm, due to the high band gap difference between GaN and AlN. This allows the discrimination between the emission of neighbouring QDiscs and evidencing the presence of lateral inclusions, about 3 nm thick and 20 nm long rods (quantum rods, QRods), grown unintentionally on the nanowire sidewalls. These structures, also observed by STEM dark-field imaging, are proved to be optically active in nanoCL, emitting at similar, but usually shorter, wavelengths with respect to most QDiscs. This work has been recently published in Nanotechnology.

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