Single Molecules Observed by Near-Field Scanning Optical Microscopy

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Science  26 Nov 1993:
Vol. 262, Issue 5138, pp. 1422-1425
DOI: 10.1126/science.262.5138.1422

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Individual carbocyanine dye molecules in a sub-monolayer spread have been imaged with near-field scanning optical microscopy. Molecules can be repeatedly detected and spatially localized (to ∼λ/50 where λ is the wavelength of light) with a sensitivity of at least 0.005 molecules/(Hz)1/2 and the orientation of each molecular dipole can be determined. This information is exploited to map the electric field distribution in the near-field aperture with molecular spatial resolution.