Single terrylene molecules embedded in microscopic <i>p</i>-terphenyl crystals are identified with the technique of fluorescence excitation spectroscopy. By use of the architecture of a scanning-probe microscope at <i>T</i> = 1.4 K , a single molecule is scanned through an excitation laser beam while the fluorescence signal is recorded. In this manner we have mapped the intensity distribution in a one-dimensional optical standing wave, demonstrating the potential of a single molecule as a nanometric probe. We discuss future experiments aimed at combining the high spatial and spectral sensitivity of a single molecule.
© 1999 Optical Society of America
(020.0020) Atomic and molecular physics : Atomic and molecular physics
(180.2520) Microscopy : Fluorescence microscopy
(180.3170) Microscopy : Interference microscopy
(180.5810) Microscopy : Scanning microscopy
(260.3160) Physical optics : Interference
J. Michaelis, C. Hettich, A. Zayats, B. Eiermann, J. Mlynek, and V. Sandoghdar, "A single molecule as a probe of optical intensity distribution," Opt. Lett. 24, 581-583 (1999)