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Plasmonics for near-field nano-imaging and superlensing

Diffraction of light prevents optical microscopes from having spatial resolution beyond a value comparable to the wavelength of the probing light. This essentially means that visible light cannot image nanomaterials. Here we review the mechanism for going beyond this diffraction limit and discuss how manipulation of light by means of surface plasmons propagating along the metal surface can help to achieve this. The interesting behaviour of light under the influence of plasmons not only allows superlensing, in which perfect imaging is possible through a flat thin metal film, but can also provide nano-imaging of practical samples by using a localized surface plasmon mode at the tip of a metallic nanoprobe. We also discuss the current research status and some intriguing future possibilities.

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Figure 1: Slow light on metal surface.
Figure 2: Experimental demonstration of subwavelength imaging through a thin silver layer.
Figure 3: Commonly used metallic nanoprobes.
Figure 4: Light field enhancement at metallic nanostructures.
Figure 5: High-resolution imaging through tip-enhancement effects.
Figure 6: Higher resolution in TERS through mechanical and chemical effects.

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Acknowledgements

This work was supported by the Core Research for Educational Science and Technology (CREST) project of the Japan Science and Technology Corporation, and by the RIKEN Extreme Photonics programme.

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Correspondence to Satoshi Kawata or Prabhat Verma.

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Kawata, S., Inouye, Y. & Verma, P. Plasmonics for near-field nano-imaging and superlensing. Nature Photon 3, 388–394 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1038/nphoton.2009.111

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