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Optics Express

Optics Express

  • Editor: C. Martijn de Sterke
  • Vol. 16, Iss. 9 — Apr. 28, 2008
  • pp: 6183–6193
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Resolving single fluorophores within dense ensembles: contrast limits of tip-enhanced fluorescence microscopy

Benjamin D. Mangum, Chun Mu, and Jordan M. Gerton  »View Author Affiliations


Optics Express, Vol. 16, Issue 9, pp. 6183-6193 (2008)
http://dx.doi.org/10.1364/OE.16.006183


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Abstract

We investigate the limits of one-photon fluorescence as a contrast mechanism in nanoscale-resolution tip-enhanced optical microscopy. Specifically, we examine the magnitude of tip-induced signal enhancement needed to resolve individual fluorophores within densely-packed ensembles. Modulation of fluorescence signals induced by an oscillating tip followed by demodulation with a lock-in amplifier increases image contrast by nearly two orders of magnitude. A theoretical model of this simple modulation/demodulation scheme predicts an optimal value for the tip-oscillation amplitude that agrees with experimental measurements. Further, as an important step toward the eventual application of tip-enhanced fluorescence microscopy to the nanoscale structural analysis of biomolecular systems, we show that requisite signal enhancement factors are within the capabilities of commercially available silicon tips.

© 2008 Optical Society of America

1. Introduction

Tip-enhanced fluorescence microscopy (TEFM) is a type of apertureless near-field scanning optical microscopy (ANSOM) that utilizes fluorescence to generate an image. By aligning the sharp tip of an atomic force microscope (AFM) probe into the focus of a laser beam with axial polarization, enhanced fields are generated at the apex of the tip [1

1. L. Novotny, R. X. Bian, and X. S. Xie, “Theory of Nanometric Optical Tweezers,” Phys. Rev. Lett. 79, 645–648 (1997). [CrossRef]

], as shown in Fig. 1. This field enhancement is tightly confined to the vicinity of the tip apex and has been shown to decay rapidly as r -6 with distance r from the tip apex [2

2. Z. Ma, J. M. Gerton, L. A. Wade, and S. R. Quake, “Fluorescence Near-Field Microscopy of DNA at Sub-10 nm Resolution,” Phys. Rev. Lett. 97, 260801 (2006). [CrossRef]

]. These enhanced local fields can be used to beat Abbe’s diffraction limit, and various scattering processes (e.g. one- and two-photon fluorescence, Raman scattering, infrared spectroscopy, and Rayleigh scattering) have been used to image a range of samples with nanoscale resolution [2–12

2. Z. Ma, J. M. Gerton, L. A. Wade, and S. R. Quake, “Fluorescence Near-Field Microscopy of DNA at Sub-10 nm Resolution,” Phys. Rev. Lett. 97, 260801 (2006). [CrossRef]

]. Much of the work with ANSOM to date has been on samples composed of isolated particles/molecules (e.g. fluorophores, quantum dots, nanotubes) due to the fact that ANSOM suffers from a relatively large background signal that arises from direct (non-enhanced) scattering from the laser beam. Thus, high density samples are challenging for ANSOM analysis since the background signal increases with the number of particles in the laser spot, while the tip-enhanced signal does not. This has so far prohibited the application of ANSOM to biological samples composed of a high density, heterogeneous ensemble of fluorescently-tagged biomolecules, including proteins, lipids, and nucleic acids.

Recently, a number groups have investigated various means of increasing the degree of field enhancement, including optimizing the shape of the tip to leverage plasmon and antenna resonances. These efforts have already been fruitful for increasing the enhancement, and will impact both ANSOM and sensor applications [13

13. L. Novotny and B. Hecht, [i]Principles of Nano-Optics[/i] (Cambridge, 2006).

]. To complement these studies, it is also important to understand how much enhancement is required to image high-density samples with sufficient contrast to resolve individual molecules within the ensemble. It has been pointed out that for dense samples, the minimum (intensity) enhancement needed to achieve sufficient image contrast ultimately depends on the nth root of the ratio of the area of the illuminated spot to the area under the tip, where n is the order of the scattering process being employed [13

13. L. Novotny and B. Hecht, [i]Principles of Nano-Optics[/i] (Cambridge, 2006).

]. Naturally for linear scattering processes such as one-photon fluorescence, larger enhancement factors are needed compared to higher-order processes, such as two-photon fluorescence or Raman spectroscopy. In this paper we specifically investigate the limits of TEFM with regard to its potential for imaging high-density samples. In particular, we use a theoretical model based on experimental measurements to show that sufficient contrast can be obtained even for the relatively simple case of commercially available silicon tips and one-photon fluorescence.

Fig. 1. (Color Online) Experimental setup for TEFM. Labeled elements are as follows: He-Ne Laser — helium-neon laser (λ=543 nm); Mask — laser-beam mask; RPC — radial polarization converter; DM — dichroic mirror; OBJ — microscope objective; Probe — AFM probe; PZT — piezoelectric transducer; SF — spectral filters; APD — avalanche photodiode; LA — lock-in amplifier; DDS — digital synthesizer; PC — personal computer. The arrows indicate the polarization of the laser beam. Axial polarization at the sample plane can be achieved either by simply focusing a radially polarized laser beam, or by placing a laser beam mask before the microscope objective such that only super-critical rays are allowed to propagate. This focused total internal reflection fluorescence (TIRF) set-up is sometimes used because of its broadband capabilities and its large focal spot (~1.5 µm×0.5 µm) lends itself to easy tip alignment, while radial polarization is preferred for smaller focal spots, ~(250 nm)2.

2. Contrast in TEFM

In TEFM, the laser stimulates two distinct fluorescence signals: the far-field signal, Sff, resulting from direct illumination of fluorophores within the laser focus, and the near-field signal, Snf, resulting from field enhancement at the tip apex. The resolution of Sff is at best diffraction limited, while Snf has resolution given primarily by the sharpness of the tip [4

4. J. M. Gerton, L. A. Wade, G. A. Lessard, Z. Ma, and S. R. Quake, “Tip-enhanced fluorescence microscopy at 10 nanometer resolution,” Phys. Rev. Lett. 93, 180801 (2004). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

]. Figure 2 shows a cartoon image composed of the superposition of Sff and Snf as well as a simulated profile through its center. While not shown, we also assume some noise in the far-field signal. Within this context, contrast (C) and signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) are defined as:

C=SpeakSffSff=SnfSff
(1)
SNR=SpeakSffNoiseinSff=Snfσff
(2)

where σff is the standard deviation (noise) in the far-field background. The near-field signal originates from a small area on the sample surface (atip) given by the near-field interaction zone, which is determined mostly by the tip sharpness, while the far-field background originates from a much larger area (A) given by the size of the laser focus. The total fluorescence signal for a given pixel of the raster-scanned image, Speak, is simply the sum of all photons collected during the pixel acquisition time (τ). The far-field signal Sff is proportional to the number of fluorophores in the focal area of the excitation beam, NFA, and also to a dimensionless parameter k that characterizes the total efficiency of the system: Sff=kNFA.

Fig. 2. Cartoon of a fluorescent particle imaged by TEFM and the corresponding signal profile.

k=I0×σ0×τ×Q×CE×λhc
(3)

where I 0=P 0/A is the intensity of the laser beam with power P 0 in a focal spot of area A; σ 0 is the absorption cross-section of the fluorophore; τ is the pixel acquisition time; Q is the quantum yield of the fluorophore; CE is the collection efficiency of the detection system; and hc/λ is the energy of a photon with wavelength λ. A green He-Ne laser (λ=543 nm) was used for these experiments due to its low cost and the availability of fluorescent dyes and quantum dots with strong absorption at this wavelength. Although we have not done careful studies of tip-enhancement as a function of excitation wavelength, we do not expect a strong dependence since the dielectric function of silicon is fairly flat over visible wavelengths.

The lower limit for detection of a near-field signal arises from the requirement that the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) be larger than unity,

SNR=Snfσff=fkNFA>1.
(4)

Below this limit, the near-field signal is indistinguishable from stochastic fluctuations of the far-field background. On the other hand, to produce an image that can be interpreted visually dictates a more stringent requirement, namely that the contrast (C) be larger than unity,

C=SnfSff=fNFA>1.
(5)

At first glance, the required signal enhancements predicted above cast a shadow on the potential application of TEFM to biological systems. As discussed below, however, the contrast can be improved dramatically by oscillating the AFM probe, which induces an associated modulation in the fluorescence signal, and by the subsequent application of a phase sensitive demodulation algorithm, such as lock-in amplification. Modulation/demodulation schemes are used widely in many areas of small signal processing and have also been used before in near-field microscopy [2

2. Z. Ma, J. M. Gerton, L. A. Wade, and S. R. Quake, “Fluorescence Near-Field Microscopy of DNA at Sub-10 nm Resolution,” Phys. Rev. Lett. 97, 260801 (2006). [CrossRef]

,4

4. J. M. Gerton, L. A. Wade, G. A. Lessard, Z. Ma, and S. R. Quake, “Tip-enhanced fluorescence microscopy at 10 nanometer resolution,” Phys. Rev. Lett. 93, 180801 (2004). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

,5

5. C. Xie, C. Mu, J. R. Cox, and J. M. Gerton, “Tip-enhanced fluorescence microscopy of high-density samples,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 89, 143117 (2006). [CrossRef]

,15–18

15. B. Knoll and F. Keilmann, “Enhanced dielectric contrast in scattering-type scanning near-field optical microscopy,” Opt. Commun. 182, 321–328 (2000). [CrossRef]

]. The analysis below demonstrates the limits of this approach for TEFM.

3. Improving contrast via phase sensitive demodulation

To calculate contrast and signal-to-noise ratio for the case of an oscillating tip, Eqs. (4) and (5) must be modified to account for the fact that the tip only intermittently contacts the sample at a particular phase of its oscillation cycle. To discuss the dependence of the near-field signal on the instantaneous height of the oscillating probe, it is useful to consider the arrival of each photon in a phase-space picture. In this scenario, each photon is assigned an angle θi corresponding to the instantaneous phase of the sinusoidal tip-oscillation function at the time of detection (Fig. 3). The photon phases can be mapped to the corresponding tip-sample separation if desired.

Since the sample remains under direct laser illumination whether the tip is oscillating or not, the far-field signal for an oscillating tip is unchanged,

Sffosc=Sff=kNFA.
(6)

Multiple scattering of far-field photons between the tip and sample can lead to variations in the background intensity as a function of the tip height. However, these variations have been measured to be very small (<5%) for the tip-oscillation amplitudes employed here, and are thus neglected. Therefore, we assume that the far-field signal for an oscillating tip is unchanged compared to an absent tip or one which is in constant contact with the surface.

In phase-space, the maximum near-field signal occurs at a preferred phase θp corresponding to tip-sample contact, and the photons are approximately Gaussian distributed around θp. To find the total number of near-field photons for a given pixel, Soscnf, the ratio γ defined as the number of photons collected in one oscillation cycle relative to the number that would have been collected had the tip been at the surface the entire time is calculated:

γ=12πππexp((θiθp)22θσ2)dθiθσ2π
(7)

where θσ is the standard deviation of the photon-phase distribution, which can be obtained experimentally and is a function of oscillation amplitude. The approximation in Eq. (7) holds in the limit that the integration limits are extended to ±∞, or equivalently when θσ<π/3. The near-field signal for an oscillating tip is then given by

Fig. 3. (Color Online) Phase-space plot showing how photon arrivals (vertical lines) are correlated to tip-oscillation phase. Squiggly arrows represent photons emitted from fluorophores within the laser focus. Higher photon count rates occur at a preferred phase θp corresponding to tip-sample contact, resulting in the strongest near-field signal.
Snfosc=Snfγ=kfγ=kfθσ2π.
(8)

Using the definitions for the oscillating signals in Eqs. (6) and (8), both the contrast and SNR for images produced by an oscillating tip (tapping mode TEFM) can now be calculated

Coscsum=fγNFA
(9)
SNRoscsum=fγkNFA
(10)

where the subscript “sum” indicates a direct sum of the photon signals. Not surprisingly, without demodulation the contrast and SNR have been reduced by a factor of γ compared to the non-oscillating scenario since the total number of near-field photons has decreased.

Lock-in amplification is a particularly powerful phase-sensitive demodulation technique that decomposes a modulated signal into real and imaginary components that are proportional to the cosine and sine projections in phase space, respectively. In TEFM, each detected fluorescence photon can be viewed as a unit vector pointing in the direction θi equal to the instantaneous phase of the tip oscillation at the time of detection (Fig. 4). In this picture, a lock-in amplifier simply performs a vector addition of the detected photons transmitted through its internal bandpass filter. If the resultant lock-in vector L is divided into near-field (NF) and far-field (FF) components, both of which are vector sums, then the lock-in signal is simply the magnitude |L|=|NF+FF|.

Fig. 4. (Color Online) Expected phase dependency of lock-in signal. Each detected photon is considered as a unit vector with a direction corresponding to the instantaneous oscillation phase of the tip. A lock-in amplifier performs the vector addition of all such unit vectors. The near-field photon phases are Gaussian distributed around θp, which corresponds to tip-sample contact. Far-field background photons are detected randomly at all phases so the corresponding vector addition is simply a random walk.

The far-field component of the lock-in vector FF results from an unbiased two-dimensional random walk with unit steps, and follows the probability distribution originally derived by Lord Rayleigh

P(r)=2rNstepser2Nsteps
(11)

where r is the final end-to-end distance of the walk, and Nsteps is the number of steps in the walk [19

19. J. W. Strutt, “On The Resultant of a Large Number of Vibrations of the Same Pitch and of Arbitrary Phase,” Philos. Mag. X, 73–78 (1880).

]. This distribution has a mean µr and standard deviation σr given by

μr=πNsteps4
(12)
σr=12Nsteps(4π).
(13)

In our case, Nsteps is given by the number of detected far-field photons that are transmitted by the lock-in bandpass filter, Nsteps=β×Sff, where β<1. This gives

FF=π4βNFA
(14)
σFF=12βkNFA(4π)
(15)

for the average length of the far-field component |FF| and its uncertainty σ|FF|, respectively. The near-field component NF comes from a biased random walk about θp. The average value of its magnitude |NF| can be estimated by projecting the unit vectors corresponding to each near-field photon onto the θp axis and then summing the result:

NF=icos(θiθp)=Snfosc×cos(θiθp)
(16)

where the sum runs over all the near-field photons, i=1→SoscNF. For simplification we define α=〈cos(θi-θp)〉. Since the phase of each photon θi is Gaussian distributed, the normalized expectation value is

α=ππcos(θiθp)e(θiθp)22θσ2dθiππe(θiθp)22θσ2eθσ22.
(17)

Combining this result with the definition of γ from Eq. (7), the average magnitude of the near-field component |NF| is then approximated by

NF=kfγαkfθσ2πeθσ22.
(18)

When using a lock-in amplifier to demodulate the signal, an image is constructed one pixel at a time, where the value of each pixel is the magnitude of the lock-in vector, |L|=|NF+FF|. The near-field component NF points along θp, but the far-field component FF points in a random direction. Performing the vector addition of NF+FF and averaging over all directions for FF, the peak lock-in signal is given by

Lpeak=NF2+FF2=(kfγα)2+π4kNFAβ.
(19)

The contrast CLI and signal-to-noise ratio SNRLI in the lock-in signal can now be found.

CLI=LpeakFFFF=[4k(fγα)2πNFAβ+1]121
(20)
SNRLI=LpeakFFσFF2CLI
(21)

Equation (20) can be used to calculate the minimum signal enhancement factor required to achieve contrast greater than unity:

CLI>1f>1αγ3πNFAβ4k.
(22)

As before, we consider the case where there is only one fluorophore in the near-field zone (~10,000 fluorophores/µm2) and the far-field illumination area is ~(0.5 µm×1.5 µm) corresponding to focused-TIRF illumination. Using typical experimental values for k=10 and β=0.15 as well as optimized values for γ=0.4 and α=0.6 (see below) gives a required signal-enhancement factor of f>65 to achieve a contrast greater than unity. Using radial polarization reduces the required enhancement to f>18 which is very realistic for silicon tips and in fact has already been demonstrated in the case of isolated spherical quantum dots [4

4. J. M. Gerton, L. A. Wade, G. A. Lessard, Z. Ma, and S. R. Quake, “Tip-enhanced fluorescence microscopy at 10 nanometer resolution,” Phys. Rev. Lett. 93, 180801 (2004). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

].

Figure 5 demonstrates how the lock-in demodulation scheme can be used to improve the contrast and SNR for samples with a high density of rod-shaped quantum dots (4 nm×9 nm). These images were obtained using a silicon tip oscillating with an optimized amplitude of ~30 nm peak-to-peak (see below) and focused-TIRF illumination (λ=543 nm). Approach curve measurements where the tip is lowered onto isolated quantum dots and the fluorescence rate is measured as a function of tip-sample separation (data not shown) indicate an enhancement factor of only f~4 for these data. The small enhancement in this case results from the fact that the elongated shape of the quantum dots leads to a somewhat small spatial overlap with the region of enhanced field at the tip apex. Furthermore, the absorption dipole for these nanorods should lie predominantly along the sample surface, while the enhanced field is strongest under the tip where it is vertically polarized. This leads to relatively weak near-field excitation of the nanorods.

Fig. 5. TEFM images of a high-density quantum dot sample. Panel (a) shows the AFM topography (~50 total dots/µm2). Panel (b) shows the scalar photon sum (~14 bright dots/µm2). Panel (c) shows the same image after lock-in demodulation. The scale bar is 200 nm.

4. Optimizing tip oscillation amplitude

The lock-in contrast and signal-to-noise ratio given in Eqs. (20) and (21) are strongly influenced by the amplitude of oscillation of the AFM tip, which determines the width of the Gaussian photon-phase distribution, θσ, and thus the values of γ and α. Thus, to optimize the lock-in contrast, the product γ×α must be maximized with respect to θσ:

ddθσ(θσeθσ22)=0
(23)

where the approximations in Eq. (18) have been used. Solving Eq. (23) for θσ gives an optimal value of θoptσ=1 radian. The optimal oscillation amplitude, Aopt, can now be found using the equation of motion for the tip oscillation, z=A(1-cos(θ)). To relate θoptσ to an optimal amplitude Aopt, we define zσ as the value of tip-sample separation z in an approach curve such that the integrated area under the approach curve from 0→zσ contains 68% of the near-field photons. The value of zσ depends on the sharpness of the tip and the size and shape of the fluorescent object: sharp tips and small objects yield the smallest values of zσ. Substituting z=zσ and θ=θoptσ=1 into the equation of motion for the tip we obtain:

Aopt=zσ1cos(1)2.1zσ.
(24)

When the approximations made in Eq. (18) are used, a value of Aopt=2.18zσ is obtained compared to a value of Aopt=2.11zσ when complete numerical integrations are performed.

Experimental values for the contrast and signal-to-noise ratio as a function of the peak-to-peak oscillation amplitude of the tip are shown in Fig. 6, along with the theoretical predictions developed above. Isolated (NFA=1) CdSe/ZnS nanorods (4 nm×9.4 nm) were imaged with different amplitudes using many different tips from the same fabrication wafer. Each data point was computed from the measured values of Speak, Sff, and σff, as used in Eqs. (1) and (2) for ~15 different quantum dots [6

6. H. F. Hamann, M. Kuno, A. Gallagher, and D. J. Nesbitt, “Molecular fluorescence in the vicinity of a nanoscopic probe,” J. Chem. Phys. 114, 8596–8609 (2001). [CrossRef]

]. The values of f=3.7±1.3, k=11±5, β=0.15±0.15, and zσ=7.5±2 nm were all obtained from a statistical analysis of image and approach curve data. Subsequently, θσ was computed from Eq. (24) using the measured value zσ=7.5±2 nm to obtain γ and α for each oscillation amplitude from Eqs. (7) and (17). Thus, the theoretical curves shown in Fig. 6 contain no free parameters whatsoever. The predicted peak-to-peak amplitude of 32±9 nm agrees with the experimental value of 32±4 nm. This good agreement between the predictions of this theoretical model and experimental measurements lends confidence to the calculated values of the signal enhancement factors f requisite for imaging high fluorophore densities found above.

Fig. 6. TEFM image contrast, panel (a), and signal-to-noise ratio, panel (b), for isolated quantum dots as a function of the tip oscillation amplitude. Data were obtained using BudgetSensors Multi-75 silicon tips. Data points correspond to the average value of ~15 measurements for the lock-in demodulation signal (closed symbols) and the scalar sum (open symbols). Dashed and dotted lines are the corresponding theoretical predictions.

5. Summary of contrast limitations

We have defined the acceptable level of near-field contrast as C>1 and have calculated the amount of signal enhancement needed in TEFM to achieve such contrast for single fluorophores within high density samples. The particular density used in our calculations was 10,000 fluorophores/µm2, which corresponds to only one fluorophore of the ensemble within the measured near-field zone (10×10 nm2). Our model uses no free parameters, but rather extracts the values for the relevant parameters from experimental measurements. The model has been validated in part by its agreement with experimental results; mathematical optimization of the tip oscillation amplitude matches experimental measurements, as seen in Fig. 6. Using this model, we have considered the two cases of a near-field probe that is not oscillating vertically above the sample surface (contact-mode AFM imaging) and one that is (tapping mode imaging) for two experimentally-relevant illumination conditions, focused-TIRF and radial polarization. For contact-mode imaging, the requisite signal enhancement factors were calculated to be f~7500 for focused-TIRF illumination and f~600 for radial polarization. Both of these values are well beyond the maximum measured enhancement of f~20 for Si tips. Tapping-mode imaging coupled with lock-in demodulation significantly increases image contrast, thus reducing the requisite signal enhancement factors to f~65 for focused-TIRF and f~18 for radial polarization. This last case is within the capabilities of commercially available Si AFM tips. Thus we expect that the maximum density achievable with Si tips is not limited by the enhancement factor, but rather by the requirement that each fluorophore be spatially resolved from its neighbors, in this case, at least 10 nm apart.

6. Conclusions

Determining the structure of extended biomolecular networks, and relating that structure to the physical mechanisms underlying various biological functions, are very difficult and pressing problems in molecular-scale science. Current nanoscale structural analysis tools including x-ray crystallography, electron microscopy, and atomic force microscopy, have a number of limitations that prevent their application to extended networks composed of heterogeneous mixtures of various biomolecules. Fluorescence microscopy, on the other hand, is a very powerful technique for analyzing heterogeneous molecular systems, and when combined with the spatial resolution afforded by apertureless near-field microscopy, holds great promise as a future molecular-scale structural analysis tool.

Although the potential of apertureless fluorescence microscopy in structural biology has been recognized previously, a recurring criticism has been that first-order scattering processes cannot achieve the contrast needed to resolve individual molecules within a dense ensemble. In this work, we have explicitly addressed this issue and have shown both theoretically and experimentally, that it is in fact possible to achieve the needed contrast using carefully designed modulation/demodulation schemes. The key issue discussed was the need to optimize various experimental parameters, such as the oscillation amplitude and material properties of the apertureless tip. Coupled with recent and future advances in scanning probe microscopy, such as imaging in water and fast frame imaging speeds, it may ultimately be possible to combine optical resolution approaching that of electron microscopy with the ability to image bio-molecules in physiological conditions.

Acknowledgments

The authors thank Changan Xie, Jonathan Cox, David Goldenberg, and Eyal Shafran for helpful discussions. This work was supported in part by a Cottrell Scholar Award from the Research Corporation.

References and links

1.

L. Novotny, R. X. Bian, and X. S. Xie, “Theory of Nanometric Optical Tweezers,” Phys. Rev. Lett. 79, 645–648 (1997). [CrossRef]

2.

Z. Ma, J. M. Gerton, L. A. Wade, and S. R. Quake, “Fluorescence Near-Field Microscopy of DNA at Sub-10 nm Resolution,” Phys. Rev. Lett. 97, 260801 (2006). [CrossRef]

3.

H. G. Frey, S. Witt, K. Felderer, and R. Guckenberger, “High-resolution imaging of single fluorescent molecules with the optical near-field of a metal tip,” Phys. Rev. Lett. 93, 200801 (2004). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

4.

J. M. Gerton, L. A. Wade, G. A. Lessard, Z. Ma, and S. R. Quake, “Tip-enhanced fluorescence microscopy at 10 nanometer resolution,” Phys. Rev. Lett. 93, 180801 (2004). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

5.

C. Xie, C. Mu, J. R. Cox, and J. M. Gerton, “Tip-enhanced fluorescence microscopy of high-density samples,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 89, 143117 (2006). [CrossRef]

6.

H. F. Hamann, M. Kuno, A. Gallagher, and D. J. Nesbitt, “Molecular fluorescence in the vicinity of a nanoscopic probe,” J. Chem. Phys. 114, 8596–8609 (2001). [CrossRef]

7.

A. Hartschuh, E. J. Snchez, X. S. Xie, and L. Novotny, “High-Resolution Near-Field Raman Microscopy of Single-Walled Carbon Nanotubes,” Phys. Rev. Lett. 90, 095503 (2003). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

8.

V. V. Protasenko, M. Kuno, A. Gallagher, and D. J. Nesbitt, “Fluorescence of single ZnS overcoated CdSe quantum dots studied by apertureless near-field scanning optical microscopy,” Opt. Commun. 210, 11–23 (2002). [CrossRef]

9.

E. J. Sanchez, L. Novotny, G. R. Holtom, and X. S. Xie, “Room-temperature fluorescence imaging and spectroscopy of single molecules by two-photon excitation,” J. Phys. Chem. A 101, 7019–7023 (1997). [CrossRef]

10.

E. J. Sanchez, L. Novotny, and X. S. Xie, “Near-field fluorescence microscopy based on two-photon excitation with metal tips,” Phys. Rev. Lett. 82, 4014–4017 (1999). [CrossRef]

11.

T. J. Yang, G. A. Lessard, and S. R. Quake, “An apertureless near-field microscope for fluorescence imaging,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 76, 378–380 (2000). [CrossRef]

12.

R. Hillenbrand, F. Keilmann, P. Hanarp, D. S. Sutherland, and J. Aizpurua, “Coherent imaging of nanoscale plasmon patterns with a carbon nanotube optical probe,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 83, 368–370 (2003). [CrossRef]

13.

L. Novotny and B. Hecht, [i]Principles of Nano-Optics[/i] (Cambridge, 2006).

14.

R. Dorn, S. Quabis, and G. Leuchs, “Sharper Focus for a Radially Polarized Light Beam,” Phys. Rev. Lett. 91, 233901 (2003). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

15.

B. Knoll and F. Keilmann, “Enhanced dielectric contrast in scattering-type scanning near-field optical microscopy,” Opt. Commun. 182, 321–328 (2000). [CrossRef]

16.

R. Hillenbrand, B. Knoll, and F. Keilmann, “Pure optical contrast in scattering-type scanning near-field microscopy,” J. Microsc (Oxf) 202, 77–83 (2000). [CrossRef]

17.

P. G. Gucciardi, G. Bachelier, and M. Allegrini, “Far-field background suppression in tip-modulated apertureless near-field optical microscopy,” J. Appl. Phys. 99, 124309 (2006). [CrossRef]

18.

F. Keilmann and R. Hillenbrand, “Near-field microscopy by elastic light scattering from a tip,” Phil. Trans. R. Soc. A 362, 787–805 (2004). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

19.

J. W. Strutt, “On The Resultant of a Large Number of Vibrations of the Same Pitch and of Arbitrary Phase,” Philos. Mag. X, 73–78 (1880).

OCIS Codes
(180.2520) Microscopy : Fluorescence microscopy
(180.5810) Microscopy : Scanning microscopy
(180.4243) Microscopy : Near-field microscopy

ToC Category:
Microscopy

History
Original Manuscript: February 12, 2008
Revised Manuscript: April 10, 2008
Manuscript Accepted: April 14, 2008
Published: April 17, 2008

Virtual Issues
Vol. 3, Iss. 5 Virtual Journal for Biomedical Optics

Citation
Benjamin D. Mangum, Chun Mu, and Jordan M. Gerton, "Resolving single fluorophores within dense ensembles: contrast limits of tip-enhanced fluorescence microscopy," Opt. Express 16, 6183-6193 (2008)
http://www.opticsinfobase.org/oe/abstract.cfm?URI=oe-16-9-6183


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References

  1. L. Novotny, R. X. Bian, and X. S. Xie, "Theory of Nanometric Optical Tweezers," Phys. Rev. Lett. 79, 645-648 (1997). [CrossRef]
  2. Z. Ma, J. M. Gerton, L. A. Wade, and S. R. Quake, "Fluorescence Near-Field Microscopy of DNA at Sub-10 nm Resolution," Phys. Rev. Lett. 97, 260801 (2006). [CrossRef]
  3. H. G. Frey, S. Witt, K. Felderer, and R. Guckenberger, "High-resolution imaging of single fluorescent molecules with the optical near-field of a metal tip," Phys. Rev. Lett. 93, 200801 (2004). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  4. J. M. Gerton, L. A. Wade, G. A. Lessard, Z. Ma, and S. R. Quake, "Tip-enhanced fluorescence microscopy at 10 nanometer resolution," Phys. Rev. Lett. 93, 180801 (2004). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  5. C. Xie, C. Mu, J. R. Cox, and J. M. Gerton, "Tip-enhanced fluorescence microscopy of high-density samples," Appl. Phys. Lett. 89, 143117 (2006). [CrossRef]
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