Wednesday, July 11, 2007

US Patent 7241987 - Nanoparticle-coated near-field probe

Near-field microscopes have been developed over the past several decades to overcome the wavelength limited resolution of conventional optical microscopes. Within the past few years surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS), a technique used to enhance detection by several orders of magnitude via rough surfaces, has been used in combination with near-field probes, however inconsistency existed because of differences in the ways the surface were formed to promote SERS. This patent teaches the formation of metal nanoparticles to achieve the SERS effect in a near field probe in a more consistent manner.

1. A probe for a near-field microscope comprising: a probe body is inserted into an evanescent field generated in a sample surface so that scattered light is detected by scattering the evanescent field using a probe tip of the probe body, one part or all of the probe body which interacts with the evanescent field being coated with metal particles which do not mutually adhere, each of the metal particles having a particle diameter of 10 nm or larger and a radius of curvature of 50 nm or smaller.

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