Nano-optical functionality based on local photoisomerization in photochromic single crystal
Towards the construction of functional devices and systems using optical near-field processes, we demonstrate the multivalent features in the path-branching phenomena in a photochromic single crystal observed in optical phase change between colorless (1o) and blue-colored (1c) phases that transmits in subwavelength scale over a macroscopic spatial range associated with local mechanical distortions induced. To observe the near-field optical processes of transmission path branching, we have developed a top-to-bottom double-probe scanning near-field optical microscope capable of nanometer-scale correlation measurements by two individually position-controlled probes that face each other sandwiching the photochromic material. We have experimentally confirmed that a local near-field optical excitation applied to one side of the photochromic crystal by a probe tip resulted in characteristic structures of subwavelength scale around 100 nm or less that are observed by the other probe tip located on the opposite side. The structures are different from those resulting from far-field excitations that are quantitively evaluated by autocorrelations. The results suggest that the mechanical distortion caused by the local phase change in the photochromic crystal suppresses the phase change of the neighboring molecules. This new type of optical-near-field-induced local photoisomerization has the potential to allow the construction of functional devices with multivalent properties for natural intelligence.
This work was supported in part by the CREST program (JPMJCR17N2) of the Japan Science and Technology Agency and the Core-to-Core Program A. Advanced Research Networks and the Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research (JP26107012, JP17H01277, JP25286067) from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science.