Visibility of weak contrasts in subsurface scattering near-field microscopy

A. P. Engelhardt, B. Hauer, and T. Taubner

Ultramicroscopy, 126, p.40 (2013)
We present a systematic study of the effect of the tip vibration amplitude in scattering-type scanning near-field optical microscopy (s-SNOM) on the visibility of buried structures in terms of image contrast, signal strength, and noise. When varying the tip vibration amplitude the visibility of structures and the image contrast change in opposite directions. We address the question how to optimize the tip vibration amplitude in practice and discuss the respective advantages of either high contrast or low noise. Besides for subsurface imaging, our findings can also be applied to the imaging of structures with a low material contrast on the surface.