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Mid-infrared wide-field nanoscopy


Mid-infrared (MIR) spectroscopy is widely recognized as a powerful, non-destructive method for chemical analysis. However, its utility is constrained by a micrometre-scale spatial resolution imposed by the long-wavelength MIR diffraction limit. This limitation has been recently overcome by MIR photothermal imaging, which detects photothermal effects induced in the vicinity of MIR absorbers using a visible-light microscope. Despite its promise, the full potential of its spatial resolving power has not been realized. Here we present an optimal implementation of wide-field MIR photothermal imaging to achieve high spatial resolution. This was accomplished by employing single-objective synthetic-aperture quantitative phase imaging with synchronized subnanosecond MIR and visible light sources, effectively suppressing the resolution-degradation effect caused by photothermal heat diffusion. We demonstrated far-field MIR spectroscopic imaging with a spatial resolution limited by the visible diffraction, down to 120 or 175 nm in terms of the Nyquist–Shannon sampling theorem or full-width at half-maximum of the point spread function, respectively, in the MIR region of 3.12–3.85 μm (2,600–3,200 cm−1). This technique—through the use of a shorter visible wavelength and/or a higher objective numerical aperture—holds the potential to achieve a spatial resolution of less than 100 nm, thus paving the way for MIR wide-field nanoscopy.

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Fig. 1: Single-objective synthetic-aperture MIP-QPI.
Fig. 2: Mid-infrared spectroscopic imaging with 175 nm FWHM or 120 nm Nyquist–Shannon sampling resolution.
Fig. 3: Dissecting bacterial groups by high-spatial-resolution MIR spectroscopic imaging.

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Data availability

An example set of data for SOSA-MIP-QPI can be found at Other data presented in this work are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.

Code availability

An example of the analysis code for SOSA-MIP-QPI can be found at Other codes used in this work are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.


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We thank G. Ishigane for fruitful discussions. This work was financially supported by Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (grant nos. 20H00125 and 23H00273 to T.I.), JST PRESTO (grant no. JPMJPR17G2 to T.I.), Precise Measurement Technology Promotion Foundation (to T.I.), Research Foundation for Opto-Science and Technology (to T.I.), Nakatani Foundation (granted to T.I.) and a UTEC-Utokyo FSI Research Grant (to T.I.). Fabrication of the custom-made resolution test chart was performed using the apparatus at the Takeda Clean Room of d.lab at The University of Tokyo.

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Authors and Affiliations



M.T. conceived the concept of SOSA-MIP-QPI and designed the system. M.T. and K.T. performed thermal conduction calculations. M.T. performed the imaging-related simulations. V.R.B. constructed the light sources. H.S. and M.F. wrote the automated data acquisition program. K.K. fabricated the nanoscale spatial-resolution test chart. S.O. provided the E. coli cells. M.T. prepared the R. jostii RHA1 cells. M.T., K.T. and M.F. performed the experiments. M.T. analysed the data. T.I. supervised the work. M.T., K.T. and T.I. wrote the manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Takuro Ideguchi.

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Competing interests

M.T., K.T. and T.I. are inventors of patents related to MIP-QPI. The remaining authors declare no competing interests.

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Nature Photonics thanks the anonymous reviewers for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

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Supplementary Notes 1–13 and Figs 1–13.

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Tamamitsu, M., Toda, K., Fukushima, M. et al. Mid-infrared wide-field nanoscopy. Nat. Photon. (2024).

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