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Nano-optics is the branch of optical engineering which deals with optics at deeply subwavelength length scales. Technologies in the realm of nano-optics include near-field scanning optical microscopy (NSOM), photoassisted scanning tunnelling microscopy, and surface plasmon optics. Traditional microscopy makes use of diffractive elements to focus light tightly in order to increase resolution. But because of the diffraction limit (also known as the Rayleigh Criterion), propagating light may be focused to a spot with a minimum diameter of roughly half the wavelength of light. Thus, even with diffraction-limited confocal microscopy, the maximum resolution obtainable is on the order of a couple hundred nanometers. The scientific and industrial communities are becoming more interested in the characterization of materials and phenomena on the scale of a few nanometers, so alternative techniques must be utilized. Scanning Probe Microscopy (SPM) makes use of a “probe,” (usually either a tiny aperture or super-sharp tip), which either locally excites a sample or transmits local information from a sample to be collected and analyzed.

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Nano-optics". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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