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Phys Rev Lett. 2015 Sep 18;115(12):125501. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.115.125501. Epub 2015 Sep 16.

Electromagnetic Saturation of Angstrom-Sized Quantum Barriers at Terahertz Frequencies.

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Department of Physics and Astronomy and Center for Atomic Scale Electromagnetism, Seoul National University, Seoul 151-747, Korea.
Department of Energy Systems Research and Department of Physics, Ajou University, Suwon 443-749, Korea.
Graphene Research Institute and Department of Physics, Sejong University, Seoul 143-747, Korea.
Department of Physics and Astronomy and Center for Theoretical Physics, Seoul National University, Seoul 151-747, Korea.
Photonic Systems Laboratory, School of EECS, Seoul National University, Seoul 151-744, Korea.


Metal-graphene-metal hybrid structures allow angstrom-scale van der Waals gaps, across which electron tunneling occurs. We squeeze terahertz electromagnetic waves through these λ/10 000 000 gaps, accompanied by giant field enhancements. Unprecedented transmission reduction of 97% is achieved with the transient voltage across the gap saturating at 5 V. Electron tunneling facilitated by the transient electric field strongly modifies the gap index, starting a self-limiting process related to the barrier height. Our work enables greater interplay between classical optics and quantum tunneling, and provides optical indices to the van der Waals gaps.

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