Direct nanoscopic observation of plasma waves in the channel of a graphene field-effect transistor

Amin Soltani*, Frederik Kuschewski, Marlene Bonmann, Andrey Generalov, Andrei Vorobiev, Florian Ludwig, Matthias M. Wiecha, Dovilė Čibiraitė, Frederik Walla, Stephan Winnerl, Susanne C. Kehr, Lukas M. Eng, Jan Stake, Hartmut G. Roskos

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterScientificpeer-review


Plasma waves play an important role in many solid-state phenomena and devices. They also become significant in electronic device structures as the operation frequencies of these devices increase. A prominent example is field-effect transistors (FETs), that witness increased attention for application as rectifying detectors and mixers of electromagnetic waves at gigahertz and terahertz frequencies, where they exhibit very good sensitivity even high above the cut-off frequency defined by the carrier transit time. Transport theory predicts that the coupling of radiation at THz frequencies into the channel of an antenna-coupled FET leads to the development of a gated plasma wave, collectively involving the charge carriers of both the two-dimensional electron gas and the gate electrode. In this paper, we present the first direct visualization of these waves. Employing graphene FETs containing a buried gate electrode, we utilize near-field THz nanoscopy at room temperature to directly probe the envelope function of the electric field amplitude on the exposed graphene sheet and the neighboring antenna regions. Mapping of the field distribution documents that wave injection is unidirectional from the source side since the oscillating electrical potentials on the gate and drain are equalized by capacitive shunting. The plasma waves, excited at 2 THz, are overdamped, and their decay time lies in the range of 25–70 fs. Despite this short decay time, the decay length is rather long, i.e., 0.3-0.5 μm, because of the rather large propagation speed of the plasma waves, which is found to lie in the range of 3.5–7 × 106 m/s, in good agreement with theory. The propagation speed depends only weakly on the gate voltage swing and is consistent with the theoretically predicted 14 power law.

Original languageEnglish
Article number97
JournalLight: Science and Applications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2020
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

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  • Projects

    High-performance room-temperature graphene based THz heterodyne detectors

    Generalov, A.


    Project: Academy of Finland: Other research funding

    Photonics Research and Innovation

    Sun, Z. & Li, D.


    Project: Academy of Finland: Other research funding


    Hulkko, E., Sun, Z., Das, S., Generalov, A. & Uddin, M.


    Project: Academy of Finland: Other research funding

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