Construction and Application of a Terahertz Scanning Near-Field Microscope for Study of Correlated Electron Materials at Cryogenic Temperatures and Nanometer Length Scales
This dissertation describes the design and construction of the world's first cryogenic apertureless near-field microscope designed for terahertz sources and detectors. I first provide motivation for the creation of this instrument in the context of spectroscopy of correlated electron materials, and background information on the two techniques that the instrument combines, scanning near-field optical microscopy and terahertz time-domain spectroscopy. I then detail key components of the instrument design, including proof-of-principle results obtained at room and cryogenic temperatures. Following this, I discuss an imaging experiment performed with this instrument on vanadium dioxide, an insulator-metal transition material, which sheds new light on the nature of the phase transition and provides support for a new model Hamiltonian for the system. Finally, I discuss a theoretical proposal for the study of cuprate superconductors using this instrument.