The development of spintronic technology with increasingly dense, high-speed, and complex devices will be accelerated by accessible microscopy techniques capable of probing magnetic phenomena on picosecond time scales and at deeply sub-micron length scales. A recently developed time-resolved magneto-thermal microscope provides a path towards this goal if it is augmented with a picosecond, nanoscale heat source. We theoretically study adiabatic nanofocusing and near-field heat induction using conical gold plasmonic antennas to generate sub-100 nm thermal gradients for time-resolved magneto-thermal imaging. Finite element calculations of antenna-sample interactions reveal focused electromagnetic loss profiles that are either peaked directly under the antenna or are annular, depending on the sample's conductivity, the antenna's apex radius, and the tip-sample separation. We find that the thermal gradient is confined to 40 nm to 60 nm full width at half maximum for realistic ranges of sample conductivity and apex radius. To mitigate this variation, which is undesirable for microscopy, we investigate the use of a platinum capping layer on top of the sample as a thermal transduction layer to produce heat uniformly across different sample materials. After determining the optimal capping layer thickness, we simulate the evolution of the thermal gradient in the underlying sample layer and find that the temporal width is below 10 ps. These results lay a theoretical foundation for nanoscale, time-resolved magneto-thermal imaging.
Karsch, J. C., Bartell, J. M., & Fuchs, G. D. (2017). Near-field coupling of gold plasmonic antennas for sub-100 nm magneto-thermal microscopy. APL Photonics, 2(8). https://doi.org/10.1063/1.4998757