Microsphere-based super-resolution scanning optical microscope

High-refractive index dielectric microspheres positioned within the field of view of a microscope objective in a dielectric medium can focus the light into a so-called photonic nanojet. A sample placed in such nanojet can be imaged by the objective with super-resolution, i.e. with a resolution beyond the classical diffraction limit. However, when imaging nanostructures on a substrate, the propagation distance of a light wave in the dielectric medium in between the substrate and the microsphere must be small enough to reveal the sample's nanometric features. Therefore, only the central part of an image obtained through a microsphere shows super-resolution details, which are typically similar to 100 nm using white light (peak at lambda = 600 nm). We have performed finite element simulations of the role of this critical distance in the super-resolution effect. Super-resolution imaging of a sample placed beneath the microsphere is only possible within a very restricted central area of -10 mu m(2), where the separation distance between the substrate and the microsphere surface is very small (-1 mu m). To generate super-resolution images over larger areas of the sample, we have fixed a microsphere on a frame attached to the microscope objective, which is automatically scanned over the sample in a step-by-step fashion. This generates a set of image tiles, which are subsequently stitched into a single super-resolution image (with resolution of lambda/4-lambda/5) of a sample area of up to -10(4) mu m(2). Scanning a standard optical microscope objective with microsphere therefore enables super-resolution microscopy over the complete field-of-view of the objective. (C) 2017 Optical Society of America

Published in:
Optics Express, 25, 13, 15079-15092
Washington, Optical Soc Amer

 Record created 2017-07-10, last modified 2018-01-28

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