Nanoscale Infrared Spectroscopy and Imaging: Breaking the Diffraction Limit by 50 Fold
Develop a set of technologies combining nanoscale probes and infrared spectroscopy to enable a measurement platform capable of imaging chemical composition at resolutions below 100 nanometers.
Sponsor: Anasys Instruments Corp3944 State Street
Santa Barbara, CA 93105
Anasys Instruments has proposed developing a suite of technology innovations that, together, will constitute the world's first infrared (IR) spectroscopy system for chemical composition imaging at scales below 100 nanometers. IR spectroscopy has been a workhorse of materials analysis for decades, and is a standard technique for determining the chemical composition of both pure materials and blends. The wavelength of infrared light, however, imposes physical limits: conventional IR spectroscopy cannot resolve features smaller than 5 microns in theory (and 10 microns in practice). Chemistry, biochemistry and microelectronics researchers who are now exploring nanoscale structures and devices have had to do without this invaluable tool. Anasys Instruments plans to link IR spectroscopy to a nanoscale probe to produce an instrument capable of chemical imaging/spectroscopy at scales below 100 nanometers, 50 times better than the current state of the art. The key innovation is to use a nanoscale probe to sense the sample response at each point on the surface to the absorption of specific frequencies of IR radiation, thus evading the optical limits of conventional spectroscopy. The project requires fundamental breakthroughs in several multi—disciplinary areas including (but not limited to) nanoscale probe technology that can sense IR absorption and detection algorithms that can minimize background noise and crosstalk. If successful, a nanoscale IR spectroscopy platform like this would have applications across a broad range of industries and disciplines, including nanoscale chemical analysis to improve the properties of advanced composite materials, improved process control and measurements for nanoscale lithography in the semiconductor industry, and cell-level assay for detecting aggressive prostate cancer, a diagnostic tool that alone could have an economic impact approaching $1 billion a year.