The development of near-field optics marked a major advance in microscopy and our ability to develop nanoscale technologies. However, the tapered optical fiber widely in use as the optical near-field probe has serious limitations in its fabrication, its optical transmission efficiency, and its use in arrays.
Fabrication of Silicon Microprobes for Optical Near-Field Applications reports on several technological approaches to using silicon micromachining techniques for fabricating microprobes without the drawbacks of conventional optical fiber probes. The authors have developed a simple, effective method for batch-process production of silicon cantilevered probes with apertures as small as 20 nanometers. They have investigated in detail the probes' optical performance characteristics and show how the silicon probes overcome the limitations of the optical fiber probes in terms of production throughput, optical throughput, reproducibility, simplicity of instrumentation, and mechanical performance.