We demonstrate emission of electromagnetic pulses with frequencies in the terahertz (THz) range from ruthenium thin films through a second-order nonlinear optical process. Ruthenium deposited on different substrates showed different THz emission properties. We provide evidence that for Ru on glass above a certain power threshold, laser-induced oxidation occurs, resulting in an increased slope of the linear dependence of the THz electric field amplitude on pump power. The THz electric field is mainly polarized parallel to the sample surface, pointing in the same direction everywhere. In contrast to Ru on glass, the electric field amplitude of the THz pulses emitted by Ru on sapphire and on CaF2 shows a simple single linear dependence on pump power, and it is polarized orthogonal to the sample surface. In this case, thermal oxidation in an oven enhances the emission and introduces an additional polarization component along the sample surface. This component also points in the same direction everywhere on the surface, similar to the as-deposited Ru on glass. Although the precise THz generation mechanism remains an open question, our results show a strong correlation between the emission strength and the degree of oxidation. Furthermore, the results highlight the importance of the interfaces, i.e., both the choice of the substrate and the chemical composition of the top surface in THz emission experiments. Knowledge of the state of the sample surface is therefore crucial for the interpretation of THz emission experiments from (nonmagnetic) metal surfaces.

J. Phys. Chem. C
Light-Matter Interaction

Cruciani, L., van Vliet, S., Troglia, A., Bliem, R., van Druten, K., & Planken, P. (2023). Femtosecond Laser-Induced Emission of Coherent Terahertz Pulses from Ruthenium Thin Films. J. Phys. Chem. C, 127(46), 22662–22672. doi:10.1021/acs.jpcc.3c05525