Published online by Cambridge University Press: 14 March 2018
As the year ends there is a bumper crop of announcements of advances that I find absolutely amazing. First of course is the continued clever use of light as a veritable tool in manipulating everything from atoms (entrapping them in “atomic molasses”) to having tugs of war with biological motors (using “light tweezers”). But these developments will be for discussion another time. What I want to talk about in this installment are advances in Near Field Scanning Optical Microscopy (NSOM), which has now been used by Chichester and Betzig to visualize single molecules.
In classical (far field) optics, resolution is limited by diffraction to about 1/2 the wavelength of the radiation used for imaging. Near field optics overcome this limitation by use of scanning techniques similar to those employed in Scanning Tunneling or Scanning Force Microscopy.