Nanoscopy through a plasmonic nanolens

Matthew Horton, Oluwafemi Ojambati, Rohit Chikkaraddy, William Deacon, Nuttawut Kongsuwan, Angela Demetriadou, Ortwin Hess, Jeremy J. Baumberg*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
148 Downloads (Pure)


Plasmonics now delivers sensors capable of detecting single molecules. The emission enhancements and nanometer-scale optical confinement achieved by these metallic nanostructures vastly increase spectroscopic sensitivity, enabling real-time tracking. However, the interaction of light with such nanostructures typically loses all information about the spatial location of molecules within a plasmonic hot spot. Here, we show that ultrathin plasmonic nanogaps support complete mode sets which strongly influence the far-field emission patterns of embedded emitters and allow the reconstruction of dipole positions with 1-nm precision. Emitters in different locations radiate spots, rings, and askew halo images, arising from interference of 2 radiating antenna modes differently coupling light out of the nanogap, highlighting the imaging potential of these plasmonic “crystal balls.” Emitters at the center are now found to live indefinitely, because they radiate so rapidly.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2275-2281
Number of pages7
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number5
Early online date15 Jan 2020
Publication statusPublished - 4 Feb 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS. This work was supported by Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council Grants EP/N016920/1, EP/P029426/1, EP/L027151/1, and NanoDTC EP/L015978/1. O.S.O. was supported by a Rubicon fellowship from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research, and R.C. was supported by Trinity College Cambridge. A.D. acknowledges support from a Royal Society University Research Fellowship URF\R1\180097 and Royal Society Research Fellows Enhancement Award RGF\EA\181038.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.


  • nanogap
  • nanoscopy
  • plasmonics
  • single molecule
  • super-resolution


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