Terahertz (THz) electromagnetic wave has been widely used as a spectroscopic probe to detect the collective vibrational mode in vast molecular systems and investigate dielectric properties of various materials. Recent technological advances in generating intense THz radiation and the emergence of THz plasmonics operating with nanoscale structures have opened up new pathways toward THz applications. Here, we present a new opportunity in engineering the state of matter at the atomic scale using THz wave and a metallic nanostructure. We show that a medium strength THz radiation of 22 kV/cm can induce ionization of ambient carbon atoms through interaction with a metallic nanostructure. The prepared structure, made of a nano slot antenna and a nano island located at the center, acts as a nanogap capacitor and enhances the local electric field by two orders of magnitudes thereby causing the ionization of ambient carbon atoms. Ionization and accumulation of carbon atoms are also observed through the change of the resonant condition of the nano slot antenna and the shift of the characteristic mode in the spectrum of the transmitted THz waves.
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