Optical Method for Producing High-Res, 3D Images of Nanoscale Objects

To design the next generation of optical devices, ranging from efficient solar panels to LEDs to optical transistors, engineers will need a three-dimensional image depicting how light interacts with these objects on the nanoscale. Unfortunately, the smaller the object, the lower the image's resolution in 3D. Now, engineers at Stanford University and the FOM Institute AMOLF, a research laboratory in the Netherlands, have developed a technique that makes it possible to visualize the optical properties of objects that are several thousandths the size of a grain of sand, in 3D and with nanometer-scale resolution. The technique involves a unique combination of two technologies, cathodoluminescence and tomography, enabling the generation of 3D maps of the optical landscape of objects.