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Nanoscale Imaging of Light-Matter Coupling Inside Metal-Coated Cavities with a Pulsed Electron Beam

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journal contribution
posted on 26.04.2018, 00:00 by Robert J. Moerland, I. Gerward C. Weppelman, Marijke Scotuzzi, Jacob P. Hoogenboom
Many applications in (quantum) nanophotonics rely on controlling light-matter interaction through strong, nanoscale modification of the local density of states (LDOS). All-optical techniques probing emission dynamics in active media are commonly used to measure the LDOS and benchmark experimental performance against theoretical predictions. However, metal coatings needed to obtain strong LDOS modifications in, for instance, nanocavities, are incompatible with all-optical characterization. So far, no reliable method exists to validate theoretical predictions. Here, we use subnanosecond pulses of focused electrons to penetrate the metal and excite a buried active medium at precisely defined locations inside subwavelength resonant nanocavities. We reveal the spatial layout of the spontaneous-emission decay dynamics inside the cavities with deep-subwavelength detail, directly mapping the LDOS. We show that emission enhancement converts to inhibition despite an increased number of modes, emphasizing the critical role of optimal emitter location. Our approach yields fundamental insight in dynamics at deep-subwavelength scales for a wide range of nano-optical systems.