Near-field scanning optical microscopy (NSOM) offers high optical resolution beyond the diffraction limit for various applications in imaging, sensing, and lithography; however, for many applications the very low brightness of NSOM aperture probes is a major constraint. Here, we report a novel NSOM aperture probe that gives a 100× higher throughput and 40× increased damage threshold than conventional near-field aperture probes. These brighter probes facilitate near-field imaging of single molecules with apertures as small as 45 nm in diameter. We achieve this improvement by nanostructuring the probe and by employing a novel variant of extraordinary optical transmission, relying solely on a single aperture and a coupled waveguide. Comprehensive electromagnetic simulations show good agreement with the measured transmission spectra. Due to their significantly increased throughput and damage threshold, these resonant configuration probes provide an important step forward for near-field applications.
- Extraordinary optical transmission
- focused ion beam
- near-field scanning optical microscopy
- waveguide resonance