Near-field scanning optical microscopy (NSOM/SNOM) is a microscopy technique for nanostructure investigation that breaks the far field resolution limit by. AN EXAMPLE OF NEAR-FIELD OPTICAL MICROSCOPY Let us investigate an example of a practical nanometer- resolution scanning near- field optical. Evanescent Near Field Optical Lithography (ENFOL) is a low-cost high resolution Scanning Near-Field Optical Microscopy (SNOM or NSOM).

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Piezoelectric quartz tuning forks were first introduced into scanning probe microscopy for use in scanning near-field acoustic microscopy. The overall NSOM design can vary significantly, depending upon the requirements of the particular research project. Quartz crystals suitable for use in precision oscillators digital clocks and highly selective wave filters are mass-produced in huge quantities, making them relatively inexpensive. A stained and embedded specimen would be ground optically flat and scanned in close proximity to the aperture.

A fundamental principle in diffraction-limited optical microscopy requires that the spatial resolution of an image is limited by the wavelength of the incident light and by the numerical apertures of the condenser and objective lens systems.

The sharpness and sensitivity of the tip vibration is characterized by the Q of the cantilever similar to the measured Q in the shear-force oscillation. In order to achieve an optical resolution greater than the diffraction limit the resolution limit of conventional optical microscopythe probe tip must be brought within this near-field region.

The Cornell group used electron-beam lithography to create apertures, smaller than 50 nanometers, in silicon and metal. NSOM is currently still in its infancy, and more research is needed toward developing improved probe fabrication techniques and more sensitive feedback mechanisms.

The computer then renders this data into two-dimensional data sets lines. The nature of the shear forces that are responsible for damping the probe tip oscillations during near-field specimen approach is the subject of much research interest.

Near-field scanning optical microscope – Wikipedia

The resolution of the tapping-mode near-field image is defined not only by the radius of the tip but also by the amplitude of the oscillation occurring perpendicular to the specimen surface.

Synge’s proposal suggested a new type of optical microscope that would bypass the diffraction limit, but required fabrication of filethpe nanometer aperture much smaller than the light wavelength in an opaque screen. The NSOM method is particularly useful to nano-technologists physicists, materials scientists, chemists, and biologists who require ultra-high resolution spatial information from the broad range of materials encountered in their varied disciplines.


This allows lock-in detection techniques basically a bandpass filter with the center frequency set at the reference oscillation frequency to be utilized, which eliminates positional detection problems associated with low-frequency noise and drift. At the heart of all scanning probe microscopy techniques is the scanning system.

In addition, an x-y-z scanner usually piezoelectric is utilized to control the movement of the probe over the specimen. Opticao increase in optical coupling is an option because the optical losses, as well as increased heating, occur at the bend in the fiber and not at the aperture of the probe, where local heating would present a major problem.

Near-field scanning optical microscope

NSOM Simulation Explore the difference between near-field scanning with the probe in feedback mode, in which the tip height varies in response to specimen topography, and scanning without feedback engaged. The typical size scale of features measured with a scanning probe microscope ranges from the atomic level less than 1 nanometer to more than micrometers.

The tip oscillation amplitude and frequency can be monitored by several different techniques, which generally can nanolitnography categorized within two groups. Additionally, the tuning fork system does not require the tedious alignment procedures of a separate external laser source and associated focusing optical components.

Each oscillatory mode has several advantages and disadvantages.

Near-Field Scanning Optical Microscopy – Introduction

A further benefit of operating the probe scanning system with feedback control is to obtain accurate optical signal levels, eliminating the dramatic variations caused by the exponential dependence of these signals on the tip-to-specimen separation. Diffraction of a separate light source by the tip. The proposal, although visionary and simple in concept, was far beyond the technical capabilities of the time.

Although much less likely, this artifact can occur even with the tip under feedback control, especially if the feedback set point is not correctly chosen.

The probe oscillation damping due to tip-specimen interaction increases nonlinearly with decreasing tip-specimen separation. The action of damping forces on the probe tip can be conceptualized by envisioning a thin layer of water covering the specimen surface which is actually the case if the specimen is in ambient conditions. Although newer near-field instrumentation techniques are being developed to image three-dimensional volume sets, NSOM has typically been limited to specimens that are accessible by a local probe, which is physically attached to a macroscopic scan head.


It is generally beneficial to maximize the Q of the probe oscillation in order to achieve greater stability and more sensitive tip height regulation. The development of near-field scanning optical microscopy NSOMalso frequently termed scanning near-field optical microscopy SNOMhas been driven by the need for an imaging technique that retains the various contrast mechanisms afforded by optical microscopy methods while attaining spatial resolution beyond the classical optical diffraction limit.

Later, tuning forks were incorporated into the NSOM to serve as inexpensive and simple, non-optical excitation and detection devices in distance control functions. The shear-force feedback feild laterally dithers the probe tip at a mechanical mocroscopy frequency in proximity to the specimen surface. The minimum resolution d for the optical component are thus limited by its aperture size, and expressed by the Rayleigh criterion:. This allows lock-in detection techniques basically a bandpass filter with the center frequency set at the reference oscillation frequency to be utilized, which eliminates positional detection problems associated with low-frequency noise and drift.

NSOM images are typically generated by scanning a sub-wavelength aperture over the specimen in a two-dimensional raster pattern and collecting opyical emitted radiation in the optical far-field, point-by-point. There are several advantages of the tuning fork method that have led to its increased favor over optical techniques of tip regulation.

Furthermore, the extreme specimen preparation requirements for most of the high-resolution methods have limited their application in many areas of study, particularly in biological investigations involving dynamic or in vitro measurements. If the fork is filettpe driven electrically, the arms vibrate in opposite directions, whereas external mechanical excitation produces janolithography oscillation in which both arms of the tuning fork move in the same direction.

Both of these microscoy decrease the output signal from the tuning fork for the non-optical method. The two separate data sets optical and topographical can then be compared to determine the correlation between the physical structures and the optical contrast.

A schematic illustrating the control and information flow of an inverted optical microscope-based NSOM system is presented in Figure 3. The detector is then rastered across the sample using a piezoelectric stage.