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J Phys Chem A. 2006 Jul 13;110(27):8297-303.

Interaction of scanning probes with semiconductor nanocrystals; physical mechanism and basis for near-field optical imaging.

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Institute of Chemistry, Farkas Center for Light Induced Processes, Center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem 91904, Israel.


We investigate the modification of photoluminescence (PL) from single semiconductor nanocrystal quantum dots (NCs) in the proximity of metal and semiconducting atomic force microscope (AFM) tips. The presence of the tip alters the radiative decay rate of an emitter via interference and opens efficient nonradiative decay channels via energy transfer to the tip material. These effects cause quenching (or enhancement) of the emitter's PL intensity as a function of its distance from the interacting tip. We take advantage of this highly distance-dependent effect to realize a contrast mechanism for high-resolution optical imaging. AFM tips are optimized as energy acceptors by chemical functionalization with InAs NCs to achieve optical resolution down to 30 nm. The presented experimental scheme offers high-resolution optical information while maintaining the benefits of traditional AFM imaging. We directly measure the PL intensity of single NCs as a function of the tip distance. Our results are in good agreement with calculations made by a classical theoretical model describing an oscillating dipole interacting with a planar mirror.

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