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Materials characterization

Optics up close and personal

Why use a lens to build a light microscope when you can see better without one? State-of-the-art optical microscopy techniques that avoid the usual limitations associated with lenses are making waves in unexpected areas of materials science.

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Figure 1: Aperture-based near-field scanning optical microscopy.
Figure 2: Subwavelength-sized optical aperture and surrounding periodic structure fabricated in a thin silver film.


  1. *The Seventh International Conference on Near-Field Optics and Related Techniques Rochester, New York, USA, 11–15 August 2002.


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Higgins, D. Optics up close and personal. Nature Mater 1, 83–85 (2002).

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