Super-Resolution Imaging of a Dielectric Microsphere Is Governed by the Waist of Its Photonic Nanojet
Dielectric microspheres with appropriate refractive index can image objects with super-resolution, that is, with a precision well beyond the classical diffraction limit. A microsphere is also known to generate upon illumination a photonic nanojet, which is a scattered beam of light with a high-intensity main lobe and very narrow waist. Here, we report a systematic study of the imaging of water immersed nanostructures by barium titanate glass microspheres of different size. A numerical study of the light propagation through a microsphere points out the light focusing capability of microspheres of different size and the waist of their photonic nanojet. The former correlates to the magnification factor of the virtual images obtained from linear test nanostructures, the biggest magnification being obtained with microspheres of similar to 6-7 mu m in size. Analyzing the light intensity distribution of microscopy images allows determining analytically the point spread function of the optical system and thereby quantifies its resolution. We find that the super-resolution imaging of a microsphere is dependent on the waist of its photonic nanojet, the best resolution being obtained with a 6 mu m empty set microsphere, which generates the nanojet with the minimum waist. This comparison allows elucidating the super-resolution imaging mechanism.