An atomic force microscope tip as a light source
Honig, Christopher D. F.
Ducker, William A.
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We present a simple method for causing the end of a silicon nitride atomic force microscope (AFM) tip to emit light, and we use this emitted light to perform scanning near-field optical microscopy. Illumination of a silicon nitride AFM tip by blue (488 nm) or green (532 nm) laser light causes the sharp part of the tip to emit orange light. Orange light is emitted when the tip is immersed in either air or water; and while under illumination, emission continues for a period of many hours without photobleaching. By careful alignment of the incident beam, we can arrange the scattered light to decay as a function of the tip-substrate separation with a decay length of 100-200 nm. The exponential decay of the intensity means that the emitted light is dominated by contributions from parts of the tip that are near the sample, and therefore the emitted orange light can be used to capture high-resolution near-field optical images in air or water. (c) 2005 American Institute of Physics.