Research ArticleOPTICS

Full-field imaging of thermal and acoustic dynamics in an individual nanostructure using tabletop high harmonic beams

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Science Advances  19 Oct 2018:
Vol. 4, no. 10, eaau4295
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aau4295


Imaging charge, spin, and energy flow in materials is a current grand challenge that is relevant to a host of nanoenhanced systems, including thermoelectric, photovoltaic, electronic, and spin devices. Ultrafast coherent x-ray sources enable functional imaging on nanometer length and femtosecond timescales particularly when combined with advances in coherent imaging techniques. Here, we combine ptychographic coherent diffractive imaging with an extreme ultraviolet high harmonic light source to directly visualize the complex thermal and acoustic response of an individual nanoscale antenna after impulsive heating by a femtosecond laser. We directly image the deformations induced in both the nickel tapered nanoantenna and the silicon substrate and see the lowest-order generalized Lamb wave that is partially confined to a uniform nanoantenna. The resolution achieved—sub–100 nm transverse and 0.5-Å axial spatial resolution, combined with ≈10-fs temporal resolution—represents a significant advance in full-field dynamic imaging capabilities. The tapered nanoantenna is sufficiently complex that a full simulation of the dynamic response would require enormous computational power. We therefore use our data to benchmark approximate models and achieve excellent agreement between theory and experiment. In the future, this work will enable three-dimensional functional imaging of opaque materials and nanostructures that are sufficiently complex that their functional properties cannot be predicted.

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