A Light Source Smaller Than the Optical Wavelength

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Science  05 Jan 1990:
Vol. 247, Issue 4938, pp. 59-61
DOI: 10.1126/science.247.4938.59


A method has been developed for the efficient emission of light from subwavelength dimensions. It is based on packaging photons as molecular excitons, effectively reducing the volume of the light beam by 109 and making possible propagation through dimensions of 1 nanometer. Molecular microcrystals are grown in the tips of micropipettes that have inner diameters of 100 nanometers or less. Measurements are presented that demonstrate this improvement in transmission for pipettes of various diameters. The ultrasmall dimensions of these light sources, the wavelength range (ultraviolet to red) of their emission, their ease of production, and their expected unique abilities for high efficiency excitation-imaging of surfaces portend significant applications for this methodology.

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