We present an experimental study of near-field optical interactions between an optical probe and sample objects with different dielectric properties. The interaction strongly affects the radiation emitted at angles beyond the critical angle of total internal reflection in the substrate (the forbidden light regime). Such an effect has been predicted theoretically. Our experimental data show that if a conducting object is close to the optical probe, <i>p</i>-polarized optical fields are deflected away from the object. On the other hand, <i>s</i>-polarized fields are deflected toward dielectric objects. The experimental results show good qualitative agreement with numerical simulations. The described effects have a strong influence on image formation in scanning near-field optical microscopy and thus have to be taken into account for image analysis.
© 1999 Optical Society of America
Th. Huser, L. Novotny, Th. Lacoste, R. Eckert, and H. Heinzelmann, "Observation and analysis of near-field optical diffraction," J. Opt. Soc. Am. A 16, 141-148 (1999)