Ultra High Power NSOM Probe Based on Low Loss High Refractive Index Contrast Nanoscale Tip Integrated with Laser and Detector

Period of Performance: 01/01/2011 - 12/31/2011


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

828 Davis St. Suite 206
Evanston, IL 60201
Principal Investigator


Near-field scanning optical microscope (NSOM) offers the use of a nano-dimension light energy source with a diameter much smaller than the wavelength of light to achieve resolutions significantly (around 10 times) better than that of the usual optical microscope. NSOM has found wide usages and become an important measurement instrument for nano-technologies, nano-manufacturing, optical technologies, bio-technologies, and nanoscale science and engineering experimentations. However, the current NSOM probes can only provide nano-Watts optical output power which severely limits the applications of NSOM. This is because current technology uses very lossy metal-coated tip to produce the small light source. The proposed technology in this DOE proposal based on a new approach involving a nano-waveguide technology will enable much higher optical output power from NSOM probes that is 100 to 10,000 times higher than that from current probes with nanoscale spot size of down to about one tenth of the wavelength of light. The phase I technical objective is to develop a proof-ofconcept prototype for the proposed ultra-high-power NSOM probe tips that can provide power output of 10 micro-Watts to 1 milli-Watts, instead of nano-Watts of current probes. The prototype will be demonstrated at 1550nm wavelength range. In Phase II, the work will be expanded to develop a full series of ultra-high-power NSOM probe modules covering a wide wavelength range from visible to infrared with substantial performance advantages over current technologies. The modules will be plug-compatible with current NSOM probes. In addition, a fully working system that could be introduced to the production line will be achieved by further collaborating and partnering with leading NSOM instrumental company. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits: If this SBIR is funded by DOE, the new type of NSOM probes with ultra-high brightness will enable the use of NSOM for many other applications not currently possible. For example, higher power will enable higher scanning speed or larger scanning area. It will also enable application to high-spatial-resolution molecular spectroscopy or Raman spectroscopy. Attempts have already been made in the physics and chemistry community to use NSOM for specialized lithography. In the biological or nanotechnology community, high-power NSOM probes could be used to stimulate the localized release of caged compounds, heating of localized sections, localized chemical material synthesis, or apply physical pressures and forces to cut samples with nanoscale precision. These will be very important for enabling future studies in nano-technolology, nano-manufacturing, nano-medicine, nano-chemistry, and nano-biology. There are thus potentially many new market segments in nanotechnologies NSOMs could address if higher optical output powers are possible.