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Rev Sci Instrum. 2007 Aug;78(8):083106.

Piezoresistor-equipped fluorescence-based cantilever probe for near-field scanning.

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Department of Mechano-Informatics, Graduate School of Information Science and Technology, The University of Tokyo, 7-3-1 Hongo, Tokyo, Japan.


Scanning near-field optical microscopes (SNOMs) with fluorescence-based probes are promising tools for evaluating the optical characteristics of nanoaperture devices used for biological investigations, and this article reports on the development of a microfabricated fluorescence-based SNOM probe with a piezoresistor. The piezoresistor was built into a two-legged root of a 160-microm-long cantilever. To improve the displacement sensitivity of the cantilever, the piezoresistor's doped area was shallowly formed on the cantilever surface. A fluorescent bead, 500 nm in diameter, was attached to the bottom of the cantilever end as a light-intensity-sensitive material in the visible-light range. The surface of the scanned sample was simply detected by the probe's end being displaced by contact with the sample. Measuring displacements piezoresistively is advantageous because it eliminates the noise arising from the use of the optical-lever method and is free of any disturbance in the absorption or the emission spectrum of the fluorescent material at the probe tip. The displacement sensitivity was estimated to be 6.1 x 10(-6) nm(-1), and the minimum measurable displacement was small enough for near-field measurement. This probe enabled clear scanning images of the light field near a 300 x 300 nm(2) aperture to be obtained in the near-field region where the tip-sample distance is much shorter than the light wavelength. This scanning result indicates that the piezoresistive way of tip-sample distance regulation is effective for characterizing nanoaperture optical devices.

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