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Mader, Matthias; Reichel, Jakob; Haensch, Theodor W. and Hunger, David (2015): A scanning cavity microscope. In: Nature Communications, Vol. 6, 7249 [PDF, 1MB]

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Imaging the optical properties of individual nanosystems beyond fluorescence can provide a wealth of information. However, the minute signals for absorption and dispersion are challenging to observe, and only specialized techniques requiring sophisticated noise rejection are available. Here we use signal enhancement in a high-finesse scanning optical microcavity to demonstrate ultra-sensitive imaging. Harnessing multiple interactions of probe light with a sample within an optical resonator, we achieve a 1, 700-fold signal enhancement compared with diffraction-limited microscopy. We demonstrate quantitative imaging of the extinction cross-section of gold nanoparticles with a sensitivity less than 1 nm(2);we show a method to improve the spatial resolution potentially below the diffraction limit by using higher order cavity modes, and we present measurements of the birefringence and extinction contrast of gold nanorods. The demonstrated simultaneous enhancement of absorptive and dispersive signals promises intriguing potential for optical studies of nanomaterials, molecules and biological nanosystems.

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