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ACS Nano. 2012 Oct 23;6(10):9168-74. doi: 10.1021/nn303496g. Epub 2012 Sep 17.

Highly reproducible near-field optical imaging with sub-20-nm resolution based on template-stripped gold pyramids.

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Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55455, USA.


With a template-stripping fabrication technique, we demonstrate the mass fabrication of high-quality, uniform, ultrasharp (10 nm) metallic probes suitable for single-molecule fluorescence imaging, tip-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (TERS), and other near-field imaging techniques. We achieve reproducible single-molecule imaging with sub-20-nm spatial resolution and an enhancement in the detected fluorescence signal of up to 200. Similar results are obtained for TERS imaging of carbon nanotubes. We show that the large apex angle (70.5°) of our pyramidal tip is well suited to scatter the near-field optical signal into the far-field, leading to larger emission enhancement and hence to a larger quantum yield. Each gold or silver pyramidal probe is used on-demand, one at a time, and the unused tips can be stored for extended times without degradation or contamination. The high yield (>95%), reproducibility, durability, and massively parallel fabrication (1.5 million identical probes over a wafer) of the probes hold promise for reliable optical sensing and detection and for cementing near-field optical imaging and spectroscopy as a routine characterization technique.

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