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Visualizing electromagnetic fields at the nanoscale by single molecule localization

Steuwe C, Erdelyi M, Szekeres G, Csete M, Baumberg J, Mahajan S, Kaminski CF, Visualizing electromagnetic fields at the nanoscale by single molecule localization, Nano Letters 2015 15 (5), 3217-3223 DOI: 10.1021/acs.nanolett.5b00405 pdf



Coupling of light to the free electrons at metallic surfaces allows the confinement of electric fields to subwavelength dimensions, far below the optical diffraction limit. While this is routinely used to manipulate light at the nanoscale,1 in electro-optic devices2 and enhanced spectroscopic techniques,3−6 no characterization technique for imaging the underlying nanoscopic electromagnetic fields exists, which does not perturb the field4,7 or employ complex electron beam imaging.8,9 Here, we demonstrate the direct visualization of electromagnetic fields on patterned metallic substrates at nanometer resolution, exploiting a strong “autonomous” fluorescence-blinking behavior of single molecules within the confined fields allowing their localization. Use of DNA-constructs for precise positioning of fluorescence dyes on the surface induces this distance-dependent autonomous blinking thus completely obviating the need for exogenous agents or switching methods. Mapping such electromagnetic field distributions at nanometer resolution aids the rational design of nanometals for diverse photonic applications.