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Journal Articles Advanced Optical Materials Year : 2022

Characterizing nanometric thin films with far-field light

Martin Oheim


Ultra-thin, transparent films are being used as protective layers on semiconductors, solar cells, as well as for nano-composite materials and optical coatings. Nano-sensors, photonic devices and calibration tools for axial super-resolution microscopies, all rely on the controlled fabrication and analysis of ultra-thin layers. Here, we describe a simple, non-invasive, optical technique for simultaneously characterizing the refractive index, thickness, and homogeneity of nanometric transparent films. In our case, these layers are made of the biomimetic polymer, My-133-MC, having a refractive index of 1.33, so as to approach the cytosol for biological applications. Our technique is based on the detection in the far field and the analysis of supercritical angle fluorescence (SAF), i.e., near-field emission from molecular dipoles located very close to the dielectric interface. SAF emanates from a 5-nm J-aggregate emitter layer deposited on and in contact with the inspected polymer film. Our results compare favorably to that obtained through a combination of atomic force and electron microscopy, surface-plasmon resonance spectroscopy and ellipsometry. We illustrate the value of the approach in two applications, (i), the measurement of axial fluorophore distance in a total internal reflection fluorescence geometry; and, (ii), axial super-resolution imaging of organelle dynamics in a living biological sample, cortical astrocytes, an important type of brain cell. In the later case, our approach removes uncertainties in the interpretation of the nanometric axial dynamics of fluorescently labeled vesicles. Our technique is cheap, versatile and it has obvious applications in microscopies, profilometry and optical nano-metrology.
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Dates and versions

hal-03879474 , version 1 (30-11-2022)



Hodaya Klimovsky, Omer Shavit, Carine Julien, Ilya Olevsko, Mohamed Hamode, et al.. Characterizing nanometric thin films with far-field light. Advanced Optical Materials, 2022, ⟨10.1101/2022.08.15.503956⟩. ⟨hal-03879474⟩
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