We report what we believe to be a novel backscattering phenomenon associated with localized optical intensity peaks (spanning as little as ) arising at the shadow-side surfaces of plane-wave-illuminated dielectric microcylinders of noncircular cross sections. Namely, for nanometer-scale dielectric particles positioned within the localized intensity peaks, their backscattering of visible light is enhanced by several orders of magnitude relative to the case of isolated nanoparticles (i.e., Rayleigh scattering). The positions of the localized intensity peaks can be quickly scanned along the microcylinder surface by changing either the incident wavelength or angle. This combination of giant backscattering enhancement of nanoparticles and ease and rapidity of scanning may present advantages relative to the use of fragile, mechanically scanned, near-field probes. Potential applications include visible-light detection, characterization, and manipulation of nanoparticles.
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