Direct rectification of electromagnetic radiation is a well-established method for wireless power conversion in the microwave region of the spectrum, for which conversion efficiencies in excess of 84% have been demonstrated. Scaling to the infrared or optical part of the spectrum requires ultrafast rectification that can only be obtained by direct tunnelling. Many research groups have looked to plasmonics to overcome antenna-scaling limits and to increase the confinement. Recently, surface plasmons on heavily doped Si surfaces were investigated as a way of extending surface-mode confinement to the thermal infrared region. Here we combine a nanostructured metallic surface with a heavily doped Si infrared-reflective ground plane designed to confine infrared radiation in an active electronic direct-conversion device. The interplay of strong infrared photon-phonon coupling and electromagnetic confinement in nanoscale devices is demonstrated to have a large impact on ultrafast electronic tunnelling in metal-oxide-semiconductor (MOS) structures. Infrared dispersion of SiO2 near a longitudinal optical (LO) phonon mode gives large transverse-field confinement in a nanometre-scale oxide-tunnel gap as the wavelength-dependent permittivity changes from 1 to 0, which leads to enhanced electromagnetic fields at material interfaces and a rectified displacement current that provides a direct conversion of infrared radiation into electric current. The spectral and electrical signatures of the nanoantenna-coupled tunnel diodes are examined under broadband blackbody and quantum-cascade laser (QCL) illumination. In the region near the LO phonon resonance, we obtained a measured photoresponsivity of 2.7 mA W-1 cm-2 at -0.1 V.