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On-chip sampling of optical fields with attosecond resolution

A Publisher Correction to this article was published on 06 May 2021

This article has been updated


We demonstrate an on-chip, optoelectronic device capable of sampling arbitrary, low-energy, near-infrared waveforms under ambient conditions with sub-optical-cycle resolution. Our detector uses field-driven photoemission from resonant nanoantennas to create attosecond electron bursts that probe the electric field of weak optical waveforms. Using these devices, we sampled the electric fields of ~5 fJ (6.4 MV m−1), few-cycle, near-infrared waveforms using ~50 pJ (0.64 GV m−1) near-infrared driving pulses. Beyond sampling these weak optical waveforms, our measurements directly reveal the localized plasmonic dynamics of the emitting nanoantennas in situ. Applications include broadband time-domain spectroscopy of molecular fingerprints from the visible region through the infrared, time-domain analysis of nonlinear phenomena and detailed investigations of strong-field light–matter interactions.

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Fig. 1: Device overview.
Fig. 2: Experimental field-sampling results and analysis.
Fig. 3: Frequency domain of the experimental field-sampling results.
Fig. 4: Theoretical sampling bandwidth.

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Data availability

All data are available in the following GitHub repository:

Code availability

All code is available in the following GitHub repository:

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This material is based upon work supported by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research under award numbers FA9550-19-1-0065 and FA9550-18-1-0436. F.X.K. acknowledges support by the European Research Council under the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) through the Synergy Grant ‘Frontiers in Attosecond X-ray Science: Imaging and Spectroscopy’ (AXSIS) (609920) and by the Cluster of Excellence ‘CUI: Advanced Imaging of Matter’ of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)—EXC 2056—project ID 390715994. This work was also partially supported by a seed grant provided by SENSE.nano, a centre of excellence powered by MIT.nano, as well as the PIER Hamburg–MIT Program. We thank M. Colangelo and J. Simonaitis for their scientific discussion and edits to the manuscript. We thank N. Abedzadeh for taking photos of the chip.

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Authors and Affiliations



F.R., M.R.B. and P.D.K. conceived the experiments. Y.Y. and D.C.M. simulated the optical response of the devices. M.T. fabricated the devices. M.R.B., F.R. and M.T. performed the experiments with assistance from P.D.K. The theory was derived by F.R. who also and simulated the results with input from P.D.K., M.R.B. and W.P.P. The data were analysed by F.R. and M.R.B. with input from P.D.K., W.P.P., M.T. and Y.Y. The first draft of the manuscript and Supplementary Information were written by M.R.B. and F.R. with substantial contributions from M.T., Y.Y., P.D.K. and W.P.P. Input and feedback throughout the process was provided by K.K.B. and F.X.K. All authors contributed to the writing and editing of the manuscript.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Mina R. Bionta, Felix Ritzkowsky or Phillip D. Keathley.

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Competing interests

The authors declare that a patent application has been filed based on the devices described in this manuscript.

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Peer review informationNature Photonics thanks Daniele Brida, Peter Hommelhoff and Nick Karpowicz for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

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Supplementary information

Supplementary Information

Supplementary Figs. 1–11, discussion and refs. 1–6.

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Bionta, M.R., Ritzkowsky, F., Turchetti, M. et al. On-chip sampling of optical fields with attosecond resolution. Nat. Photonics 15, 456–460 (2021).

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