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Devices, processes and objects with a nanometer size become increasingly important in science, technology and everyday life. It is envisaged that the mastering of the nanoscale will help create novel instruments and processes that will improve economic performance and also help the citizen. Already today state of the art semiconductor technology is based on 250 nm wide structural features. In other fields it is envisaged that the single macromolecules can be handled and operated on by ultra fine tools, that robots might interact with living matter on a cellular basis and nanometer sized structures will show novel chemical and physical properties. Ultimate high density storage devices will operate on length scales approaching the 1 nm size.

Semiconductor physics and life sciences have an urgent need for optical imaging tools that resolve features with sizes of 1 to 10 nm. Optical imaging is desired because the colour of objects contains a wealth of information. Optical techniques have extremely high energy (spectral) and temporal resolution. They are one of the workhorses to analyse materials and samples: our technology standard is based to a great extent on the availability of optical microscopes.

One of the possibilities to extend the resolution of optical microscopes is to use point by point imaging by an ultra small light source or detector. Near field optical microscopes based on this principle have been operated with super resolution. Although this tool is routinely used in laboratories and although many types of technologically important experiments have been carried out it is generally recognised that additional technological advances and conceptual improvements are needed. It is desirable to train researchers at universities (who will be the future development leaders in companies) and in industrial laboratories to be able to exploit to the fullest the capabilities of those microscopes and to be able to assess the information contained in the images.

Home Up Uni Ulm Coordinator TMR Home Vacancies Nanofab Atomic/Molecular Manipulation
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Last Revision: 2000-07-13.