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  • Stanford researchers have invented a C-Aperture Nano-Tip which provides a new way to further enhance the optical resolution down to smaller than 15 nm. This invention provides a background-free optical near-field source with ultra-high resolution (/30 - /70) while keeping a high intensity enhancement which is 10,000x higher than a conventional Near-Field Scanning Optical Microscope (NSOM) probe with square/circular nano-aperture of equal cross-sectional area.The C-Aperture Nano-Tip is applicable to areas that need strong near-field intensity and ultra-high resolution such as NSOM, near-field nano-lithography, near-field optical recording, near-field photoluminescence inspection, Heat Assisted Magnetic Recording (HAMR), Surface Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (SERS), single molecule fluorescence detection, optical trapping of nano-particles, nano-scale photo-emission, nanometer-scale height sensor, bio-sensor, DNA sequencing, off-chip to on-chip interface for optical interconnect, nano optical light modulator nano spatial light modulator, nano detector array, nano laser ablation, nano rapid prototyping, and so on.This invention is based on a novel near-field optical probe previously disclosed in Stanford docket S04-280 "Fractal Extensions of Near-Field Nano Aperture Shapes for Enhanced Transmission and Improved Resolution" and US Patent 7,423,265 "Near-field aperture having a fractal iterate shape"Stage of ResearchThe research team is currently working on optimizing the design and the fabrication of the C-Aperture Nano-Tip (CAN-Tip) and experimentally proving the resolution and strong enhancement of it with CAN-Tip NSOM scan. The design is based on a Finite Difference Time Domain (FDTD) method, and the C-aperture nano-tip is fabricated at Stanford Nanofabrication Facility (SNF) and Stanford Nanocharacterization Laboratory (SNL).1. CAN-Tip design with FDTD:C-aperture nano-tips were designed with FDTD. Figure 1 shows an example of a design of a CAN-Tip on a silicon nitride substrate. The C-shape aperture is fundamentally resonant around the wavelength of 980 nm. By tuning the tip length, the CAN-Tip can be optimized and with a near-field enhancement factor 10X larger than a planar C-shape aperture. 2. CAN-Tip Fabrications with focused ion beam: We currently fabricate CAN-Tips with focused ion beam milling in a metallic thin film. Figure 2 shows a fabricated CAN-Tip on pyramid-shaped a gold coated silicon nitride membrane. 3. Resolution test with NSOM configuration: A 16 nm optical resolution of a CAN-Tip has been demonstrated with a NSOM configuration at 980 nm wavelength (λ/60 resolution), shown in figure 3.

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