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ACS Nano. 2011 Jun 28;5(6):4466-75. doi: 10.1021/nn2011442. Epub 2011 May 13.

Noncontact sub-10 nm temperature measurement in near-field laser heating.

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Department of Mechanical Engineering, Iowa State University, 2025 Black Engineering Building, Ames, Iowa 50011-2161, United States.


An extremely focused optical field down to sub-10 nm in an apertureless near-field scanning optical microscope has been used widely in surface nanostructuring and structure characterization. The involved sub-10 nm near-field heating has not been characterized quantitatively due to the extremely small heating region. In this work, we present the first noncontact thermal probing of silicon under nanotip focused laser heating at a sub-10 nm scale. A more than 200 °C temperature rise is observed under an incident laser of 1.2 × 10(7) W/m(2), while the laser polarization is well aligned with the tip axis. To explore the mechanism of heating and thermal transport at sub-10 nm scale, a simulation is conducted on the enhanced optical field by the AFM tip. The high intensity of the optical field generated in this region results in nonlinear photon absorption. The optical field intensity under low polarization angles (∼10(14) W/m(2) within 1 nm region for 15° and 30°) exceeds the threshold for avalanche breakdown in silicon. The measured high-temperature rise is a combined effect of the low thermal conductivity due to ballistic thermal transport and the nonlinear photon absorption in the enhanced optical field. Quantitative analysis reveals that under the experimental conditions the temperature rise can be about 235 and 105 °C for 15° and 30° laser polarization angles, agreeing well with the measurement result. Evaluation of the thermal resistances of the tip-substrate system concludes that little heat in the substrate can be transferred to the tip because of the very large thermal contact resistance between them.

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