Near field scanning optical microscopy (NSOM) is a recent technique where a tapered single-mode optical fiber probe is scanned over a sample surface at a height of a fraction of the wavelength. The tapered fiber provides a tiny aperture (a, ˜ 70nm) through which light is coupled and can yield resolutions as high as ˜, λ/40. We have used both room and low-temperature NSOM to study the local spectroscopic characteristics of a wide variety of material systems, from quantum dots and wires, to ordered GaInP, to heterojunctions and optoelectronic devices.
Low temperature near-field photoluminescence spectroscopy was used to study spectral emission maps of a set of samples of GaInP epilayers with varying degrees of ordering. The samples exhibit two peaks, a low energy (LE) and a high energy (HE) peak. Our data are inconsistent with expectations that the LE peak is due to emission from domain boundaries and alternative models will be discussed. NSOM spectral maps can yield information about the spatial dependence of the local optical matrix elements. NSOM data on the emission mode structure of strained (In, Ga)As quantum well lasers has yielded new information on the source kinks in the light response at high currents, while local photocurrent spectroscopy using the tip as a point source of photons provides analysis of the semiconductor layer composition.