We describe a new technique that incorporates polarization modulation into near-field scanning optical microscopy (NSOM) for nanometer scale polarimetry studies. By using this technique, we can quantitatively measure the optical anisotropy of materials with both the high sensitivity of dynamic polarimetry and the high spatial resolution of NSOM. The magnitude and relative orientation of linear birefringence or linear dichroism are obtained simultaneously. To demonstrate the sensitivity and resolution of the microscope, we map out stress-induced birefringence associated with submicrometer defects at the fusion boundaries of SrTiO<sub>3</sub> bicrystals. Features as small as 150 nm were imaged with a retardance sensitivity of ~3 × 10<sup>−3</sup> rad.
© 1998 Optical Society of America
(120.5410) Instrumentation, measurement, and metrology : Polarimetry
(180.5810) Microscopy : Scanning microscopy
(260.1440) Physical optics : Birefringence
(260.5430) Physical optics : Polarization
E. B. McDaniel, S. C. McClain, and J. W. P. Hsu, "Nanometer Scale Polarimetry Studies Using a Near-Field Scanning Optical Microscope," Appl. Opt. 37, 84-92 (1998)