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Photoemission in the Presence of Strong Static Fields: A Numerical Study


Light-matter interactions are interesting at high intensities: strong-field effects can result in ultrashort current bursts and optically-driven tunneling. However, this regime of lightmatter interactions is generally only accessible with high-power, short-pulse, exotic laser systems. In this thesis, we investigate whether we can extend this regime of light-matter interactions to low-power laser systems that are common in many applications. In short, we aim to leverage developments in nanofabrication to produce devices where we can apply enormous static electric fields that may help us reach the high fields necessary for strongfield light-matter interactions with only low-power, everyday laser systems. Such devices could offer two main benefits. Firstly, such devices could provide easy access to ultrashort electrical tunneling bursts produced in strong-field interactions. These could be useful for future sampling applications. Secondly, strong-field effects are relatively insensitive to the photon energy (since they are field-driven), so devices based on strong-field effects could be useful for broadband optical detectors. In particular, they could be extremely useful for detecting traditionally challenging to detect parts of the electromagnetic spectrum, such as the mid- to far-infrared ranges.In this thesis, we tackle the problem of simulating these strong-field light-matter interactions. After a brief introduction, we outline in Chapter 2 the exact configurations used in the simulations as well as some discussion about photoemission. Next, in Chapter 3, we ensure that the solver has enough points to accurately simulate our devices. We also discuss the benchmarking parameters we tested the solver with as well as the benchmarking process. In Chapter 4, we look at the functionality that we added to the solver to more closely represent realistic devices. Overall, we find that our devices can achieve strong field effects with low-power laser systems and low applied static fields. Finally, in Chapter 5, we discuss some future work this solver will be implemented with as well as improvements and additional questions to explore related to detecting mid- to far- infrared light.

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