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Laser Spectroscopy Displays 12-nm Resolution

Photonics Spectra
Nov 2002
At Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich, scientists have employed laser spectroscopy and scanning probe microscopy to resolve two molecules 12 nm apart in a crystal host. The technique, which also detected dipole-dipole coupling in the molecules, promises to enable the controlled manipulation of the entanglement between such samples, opening the door to nanoscale quantum-state engineering and to a better understanding of light-harvesting complexes.

In the work, which appeared in the Oct. 11 issue of Science, the researchers used a dye laser with a tunable wavelength near 578 nm to address single terrylene molecules in a 250-nm-thick para-terphenyl crystal at a temperature of 1.4 K. They generated a local electric field in the sample with a 3-µm-diameter, silver-coated micro-sphere on a fiber tip, which induced local inhomogeneous Stark shifts in the fluorescent response that enabled them to deduce the position of the molecules.


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