Editor's Summary

7 December 2006

Microscopy hots up


The resolution achievable by optical imaging is limited by the wavelength of the light used — the diffraction limit. Near-field scanning optical microscopy circumvents this limit by using a probe smaller than the wavelength of the incident light to map out the electromagnetic field at the sample surface, allowing a resolution well beyond the diffraction limit. Now a variant of this technique has been developed that does away with external illumination altogether. The new technique, called thermal radiation scanning tunnelling microscopy or TRSTM, makes use of the thermal infrared emissions from the sample itself. Think of it as a near-field equivalent of a night-vision camera.

LetterThermal radiation scanning tunnelling microscopy

Yannick De Wilde, Florian Formanek, Rémi Carminati, Boris Gralak, Paul-Arthur Lemoine, Karl Joulain, Jean-Philippe Mulet, Yong Chen and Jean-Jacques Greffet

doi:10.1038/nature05265