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Cathodoluminescence excitation spectroscopy: nanoscale imaging of excitation pathways

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Version 2 2023-06-08, 12:53
Version 1 2023-01-10, 02:28
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posted on 2023-06-08, 12:53 authored by Nadezda Varkentina, Yves Auad, Steffi Y. Woo, Alberto Zobelli, Jean-Denis Blazit, Xiaoyan Li, Marcel Tencé, Kenji Watanabe, Takashi Taniguchi, Odile Stéphan, Mathieu Kociak, Luiz H. G. Tizei
Following the lifespan of optical excitations from their creation to decay into photons is crucial in understanding materials optical properties. Macroscopically, techniques such as the photoluminescence excitation spectroscopy provide unique information on the photophysics of materials with applications as diverse as quantum optics or photovoltaics. Materials excitation and emission pathways are affected by nanometer scale variations directly impacting devices performances. However, they cannot be directly accessed, despite techniques, such as optical spectroscopies with free electrons, having the relevant spatial, spectral or time resolution. Here, we explore optical excitation creation and decay in two representative optical devices: plasmonic nanoparticles and luminescent 2D layers. The analysis of the energy lost by an exciting electron that is coincident in time with a visible-UV photon unveils the decay pathways from excitation towards light emission. This is demonstrated for phase-locked interactions, such as in localized surface plasmons, and non-phase-locked ones, such as the light emission by individual point defects. This newly developed cathodoluminescence excitation spectroscopy images energy transfer pathways at the nanometer scale. It widens the toolset available to explore nanoscale materials.

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