An electric field gradient is an inherent property of the optical near-field (ONF). We investigated its effect on electron excitation in a quantum dot via model calculations combining a density matrix formalism and a classical Lorentz model. The electric field gradient of the ONF was found to cause two-photon absorption by an unusual mechanism. Furthermore, the absorption exhibits a nonmonotonic dependence on the spatial arrangement of the nanosystem, completely different from that of conventional two-photon absorption induced by an intense electric field. The present two-photon absorption process was verified in a previous experimental observation by reinterpreting the results of ONF photolithography.

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