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Extending optical microscopy in nanotech.

Teams from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Gaithersburg, Md., are currently investigating methods for extending the use of optical microscopes in nanotechnology applications. Presently, the use of UV-Vis light in nanotech is limited due to the fact that their respective wavelengths exceed nanoscale dimensions--resulting in a resolution of 200 nm, too large for nanotech purposes.

To improve this resolution, NIST researchers are looking at using a novel combination of illumination, detection, and computing technologies called phase-sensitive, scatter-field optical imaging. According to NIST, "the computer-intensive technique under development uses a set of dynamically engineered light waves optimized for particular properties (such as angular orientation and polarization)." How this structured illumination field--engineered differently to highlight the particular geometry of each type of specimen--scatters after striking the target can reveal the tiniest of details.

"The scattering patterns are extremely sensitive to small changes in the shape and size of the scattering feature," says Rick Silver, a physicist in NIST's Precision Engineering Division.

National Institute of Standards and Technology

301-975-NIST, www.nist.gov

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Title Annotation:MICROSCOPY
Publication:R & D
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 1, 2005
Words:172
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