Terahertz radiation-enhanced-emission-of-fluorescence

Abstract

Terahertz (THz) wave science and technology have been found countless applications in biomedical imaging, security screening, and non-destructive testing as they approach maturity. However, due to the challenge of high ambient moisture absorption, the development of remote open-air broadband THz spectroscopy technology is lagging behind the compelling need that exists in homeland security, astronomy and environmental monitoring. Furthermore, the underlying physical mechanisms behind the interaction between the THz wave and laserinduced plasma which responds strongly to electromagnetic waves have not been fully understood.

This review aims to explain the light-plasma interaction at THz frequencies within a semiclassical framework along with experimental study of the femtosecond-laserinduced nitrogen plasma fluorescence under the illumination of single-cycle THz pulses. The results indicate that THz-radiation-enhanced-emission-of-fluorescence (THz-REEF) is dominated by electron kinetics in the THz field and the electron-impact excitation of gas molecules/ions. The information of the time-dependent THz field can be recovered from the measured time-resolved THz-REEF from single-color laser induced plasma with the help of the bias as local oscillator. The calculations and experimental verification lead to complete understanding of the science behind these effects and push forward to extend their capabilities in related applications such as remote THz sensing, plasma diagnostics and ultrafast photoluminescence modulation.

Systematic studies in selected gases including neon, argon, krypton, xenon, methane (CH4), ethane (C2H6), propane (C3H8), and n-butane (C4H10) gases were performed to obtain an improved understanding of the THz-REEF. The dependences of the enhanced fluorescence on the THz field, laser excitation intensity, gas pressure, and intrinsic atomic properties were experimentally characterized. Both narrow line emission and broad continuum emission of the gas plasma were enhanced by the THz field. Their fluorescence enhancement ratios and time-resolved enhanced fluorescence were largely dependent on the scattering cross section and ionization potential of atoms.

For the first time, we demonstrated a novel ‘all-optical’ technique of broadband THz wave remote sensing by coherently manipulating the fluorescence emission from asymmetrically ionized gas plasma that interacted with THz waves. By studying the ultrafast electron dynamics under the single cycle THz radiation, we found that the fluorescence emission from laser-induced air plasma was highly dependent on the THz electric field and the symmetry of the electron drift velocity distribution created by two-color laser fields. The time-resolved THz-REEF can be tailored by switching the relative two-color phase and laser polarizations. Owing to the high atmospheric transparency and omni-directional emission pattern of fluorescence, this technique can be used to measure THz pulses at standoff distances with minimal water vapor absorption and unlimited directionality for optical signal collection. The coherent THz wave detection at a distance of 10 m had been demonstrated. The combination of this method and previously demonstrated remote THz generation would eventually make remote THz spectroscopy available.

We also introduced a unique plasma diagnostic method utilizing the THz-wave-enhanced fluorescence emission from the excited atoms or molecules. The electron relaxation time and plasma density were deduced through applying the electron impact excitation/ionization and electron-ion recombination processes to the measured time-delay-dependent enhanced fluorescence. The electron collision dynamics of nitrogen plasma excited at different gas pressures and laser pulse energies were systematically investigated. This plasma diagnostic method offers picosecond temporal resolution and is capable of omnidirectional optical signal collection.

The ultrafast quenching dynamics of laser-pulse-induced photoluminescence in semiconductors under the radiation of single-cycle THz pulses was studied. It was found that the quenching in both cadmium telluride (CdTe) and gallium arsenide (GaAs) was linearly proportional to the intensity of incident THz waves and reaches up to 17% and 4% respectively at the peak intensity of 13 MW/cm2. The THz-wave-induced heating of the carriers and lattice and the subsequent decreased efficiency of photocarrier generation and recombination were most likely to be responsible for the quenching. This is potentially useful for the applications of a non-invasive ultrafast light modulator for photoluminescence devices with picoseconds switching time in the fields of the light-emitting devices and optical communication.

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Correspondence to Jingle Liu.

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Jingle Liu-Senior Quantitative Researcher in Bloomberg Tradebook LLC, a global leading agency broker in New York, where his work focuses on trading strategy, statistical models, market microstructure and smart order routing. He received the B.S. degree in physics from Wuhan University, Wuhan, China, in 2004, and the M.S. and Ph.D degrees in physics in 2007 and 2010 from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY. He is the author or coauthor of more than 50 scientific publications including 22 peerreview journal papers and 30 conference papers, 3 US patents and contributor to book chapters in area of physics research.

Previously he was a Co-op with General Electric, where he was engaged in computer modeling and simulation of novel ultrasonic flow sensing/imaging.

His honors and awards include: The Karen & Lester Gerhardt Prize in Science and Engineering (2011), Northeastern Association of Graduate School Best Thesis Award (2011), Small Business Innovation Research Proposal Winner (2010), IMRA Fellowship (2010), Hillard B. Huntington Award for Outstanding Achievement (2010), Founders Award of Excellence (2009), Coherent Award of Excellence (2010).

Xi-Cheng Zhang-Parker Givens Chair of Optics, assumes Directorship of The Institute of Optics, University of Rochester (UR), NY, a foremost institution in optics and optical physics research and education, on 1/1/2012. Prior to joining UR, he pioneered worldleading research in the field of ultrafast laserbased terahertz technology and optical physics at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), Troy NY (1992–2012). At RPI, he is the Eric Jonsson Professor of Science; Acting Head at the Department of Physics, Applied Physics & Astronomy; Professor of Electrical, Computer & System; and Founding Director of the Center for THz Research. He is co-founder of Zomega Terahertz Corp. With a B.S. (1982) from Peking University, he earned the M.S. (1983) and Ph.D degree (1985) in Physics from Brown University, RI.

Previous positions included Visiting Scientist at MIT (1985), Physical Tech. Division of Amoco Research Center (1987), EE Dept. at Columbia University (1987–1991); Distinguished Visiting Scientist at Jet Propulsion Lab, Caltech (2006). He holds 27 U.S. patents, and is a prolific author and speaker. He is a Fellow of AAAS, APS (lifetime), IEEE, OSA (lifetime), and SPIE (lifetime). Dr. Zhang is serving as Editor-in-Chief of Optics Letters (2014–2016).

His honors and awards include: IRMMW-THz Kenneth Button Prize (2014); OSA William F. Meggers Award (2012); IEEE Photonics Society William Streifer Scientific Achievement Award (2011); Rensselaer William H. Wiley 1866 Award (2009); Japan Society for the Promotion of Science Fellowship & NRC-CIAR Distinguished Visiting Scientist, Ottawa, Canada (2004); and First Heinrich Rudolf Hertz Lecturer, RWTH, Aachen, Germany (2003). He also served two years as a Distinguished Lecturer of IEEE/LEOS. He received Rensselaer Early Career Award (1996), Research Corporation Cottrell Scholar Award (1995), NSF Early Career Award (1995), K.C. Wong Prize, K.C. Wong Foundation, Hong Kong (1995), NSF Research Initiation Award (1992). In 1993–1994, he was an AFOSR-SRPF Fellow at Hanscom Air Force Base.

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Liu, J., Zhang, XC. Terahertz radiation-enhanced-emission-of-fluorescence. Front. Optoelectron. 7, 156–198 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12200-014-0396-4

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Keywords

  • terahertz (THz)
  • fluorescence
  • optical sensing
  • gas plasma