Within the research plan of Prof. Taubner, new imaging techniques with a high spatial resolution shall be explored and developed towards their routine application. The main focus lies on microscopy in the infrared (IR) spectral range, as it allows for e.g. chemical characterization via specific infrared vibrations of anocomposite materials. The whole project planned to push the limits of nanoscale IR microscopy within three sub-fields:
The goal of the project 'enhanced IR spectroscopy' was to use optically resonant nanostructures (so called “IR antennas”) and suited, resonant surfaces to improve the sensitivity of infrared microscopy. This should allow for application in spectral ranges where no powerful IR light sources are available. A PhD student was supposed to calculate and measure the influence of various surfaces, structures and probes on the spectral ignature of molecular absorption bands.
Another project called 'superlensing' was aimed at the exploration of fundamental imaging properties of a new kind of imaging system, the so called “superlens”. Such a system is able to image a large area of a sample at a subwavelength resolution simultaneously, which is not possible with conventional scanning probe methods. By combining infrared near-field optical microscopy (SNOM) with such a superlens, Dr. Taubner was the first to directly visualize the superlensing effect. This subproject addresses a better understanding of the imaging mechanism and the optimization of superlenses. The knowledge gained here shall be transferred to new imaging systems based on metamaterials.
The third project addresses the imaging of subsurface nanostructures or nanoparticles with a near-field optical microscope. It shall thus prove the ground for a quantitative, non-destructive analysis of layer thicknesses in nanosystems, e.g. for organic solar cells or phase-change materials. As mentioned in one of my patent applications, the adjustment of the probing depth could result in the possibility of 3D imaging of buried nanostructures, which could lead to a nondestructive, chemical sensitive “Nanotomography”.