Performance of visible and mid-infrared scattering-type near-field optical microscopes

T. Taubner, R. Hillenbrand, and F. Keilmann

Journal of Microsccopy 210, 311 (2003)
We describe the principles of two scattering-type near-field optical microscopes (s-SNOMs), one operating at 633 nm wavelength, the other at selectable wavelengths in the range 7.3–11.3 µm, and compare the measurement experience. Both use interferometric detection of scattered radiation, and are therefore capable of amplitude and phase-contrast imaging. In this study both instruments use the same or even identical commercial probe tips, and measure a single, three-component, test sample. Our results show that the imaging process of s-SNOM is wavelength-independent, namely, that the resolution is determined by the properties of the tip only, and that the contrast is given by the complex refractive index of the sample, predictable from a simple, analytical model of tip–sample interaction. A novel, ‘edge-darkening’ artefact is described which may appear in s-SNOM and that is wavelength-independent.