Light microscopy is a widely used analytical tool because it provides non-destructive, real-time, three-dimensional imaging with chemically-specific contrast. However diffraction effects typically blur the resolution of these microscopes to 200 nm or worse, which limits their utility for the study of nanoscale materials. In this project, research is performed to develop techniques which retain the microscope’s ability to acquire materials and chemically specific contrast while augmenting the spatial resolution to below 100 nm: superresolution optical microscopy. Superresolution microscopy is made possible by altering the conditions that govern the diffraction limits, namely homogeneous illumination. By changing the nature of the sample illumination, it is possible to encode additional spatial information, higher resolution, into the available information bandwidth of a microscope. Our current emphasis has been to extend the utility of superresolution microscopy by combining it with a highly specific chemical contrast mechanism: vibrational spectroscopy.
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