Abstract

In this work, we investigate multiphoton and optical field tunneling emission from metallic surfaces with nanoscale vacuum gaps. Using time-dependent Schrödinger equation (TDSE) simulations, we find that the properties of the emitted photocurrent in such systems can be greatly altered by the application of only a few-volt direct current (DC) bias. We find that when coupled with expected plasmonic enhancements within the nanometer-scale metallic gaps, the application of this DC bias significantly reduces the threshold for the transition to optical-field-driven tunneling from the metal surface, and could sufficiently enhance the emitted photocurrents, to make it feasible to electronically tag fJ ultrafast pulses at room temperature. Given the petahertz-scale instantaneous response of the photocurrents, and the low effective capacitance of thin-film nanoantenna devices that enables ${\lt}{{1}}\;{\rm{fs}}$ response time, detectors that exploit this bias-enhanced surface emission from nanoscale vacuum gaps could prove to be useful for communication, petahertz electronics, and ultrafast optical-field-resolved metrology.

© 2021 Optical Society of America

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