Owing to their promise of obtaining optical as well as topographic information in nanometer scale, apertureless near-field scanning optical microscopy (NSOM) and apertureless near-field scanning optical spectroscopy have drawn much attention recently. However, NSOM is still not a mature technique. A proper understanding of and the ability to tune the near field around the tip end is critically important in NSOM instrumentation and in NSOM image interpretation. On the basis of reflection geometry, we systematically studied the effects of a number of parameters pertinent in the application of apertureless NSOM, e.g., polarization, incident angle, wavelength of the incident laser, tip material, and tip length, by using the generalized field propagator technique. Our results show that all the above parameters have a significant influence on near-field enhancement and that care must be taken in the design of the experiment in order to maximize the near field. In addition to apertureless NSOM and spectroscopy, apertureless near-field lithography can benefit from these simulation results.
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