Journal article

Near-field scanning optical microscopy using polymethylmethacrylate optical fiber probes

We report the first use of polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA) optical fiber-made probes for scanning near-field optical microscopy (SNOM). The sharp tips were prepared by chemical etching of the fibers in ethyl acetate, and the probes were prepared by proper gluing of sharpened fibers onto the tuning fork in the conditions of the double resonance (working frequency of a tuning fork coincides with the resonance frequency of dithering of the free-standing part of the fiber) reported earlier for the case of glass fibers. Quality factors of the probes in the range 2000–6000 were obtained, which enables the realization of an excellent topographical resolution including state-of-art imaging of single DNA molecules. Near-field optical performance of the microscope is illustrated by the Photon Scanning Tunneling Microscope images of fluorescent beads with a diameter of 100 nm. The preparation of these plastic fiber probes proved to be easy, needs no hazardous material and/or procedures, and typical lifetime of a probe essentially exceeds that characteristic for the glass fiber probe.

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