Scientists from Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) in Munich and the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics can image the optical properties of individual nanoparticles with a novel microscope.
Nanomaterials play an essential role in many areas of daily life. There is thus a large interest to gain detailed knowledge about their optical and electronic properties. Conventional microscopes get beyond their limits when particle size falls to the range of a few 10 nanometers where a single particle provides only a vanishingly small signal. As a consequence, many investigations are limited to large ensembles of particles. Now, a team of scientists of the Laser Spectroscopy Division of Nobel Laureate Professor Theodor W. Hänsch (chair for experimental physics at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich and director at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics) has developed a technique, where an optical microcavity is used to enhance the signals by more than 1000-fold and at the same time achieves an optical resolution close to the fundamental diffraction limit. The possibility to study the optical properties of individual nanoparticles or macromolecules promises intriguing potential for many areas of biology, chemistry, and nanoscience.