In recent years, optical super-resolution by microspheres and microfibers emerged as a new paradigm in nanoscale label-free and fluorescence imaging. However, the mechanisms of such imaging are still not completely understood and the resolution values are debated. In this work, the fundamental limits of super-resolution imaging by high-index barium-titanate microspheres and silica microfibers are studied using nanoplasmonic arrays made from Au and Al. A rigorous resolution analysis is developed based on the object’s convolution with the point-spread function that has width well below the conventional (~λ/2) diffraction limit, where λ is the illumination wavelength. A resolution of ~λ/6-λ/7 is demonstrated for imaging nanoplasmonic arrays by microspheres. Similar resolution was demonstrated for microfibers in the direction perpendicular to the fiber axis with hundreds of times larger field-of-view in comparison to microspheres. Using numerical solution of Maxwell’s equations, it is shown that extraordinary close point objects can be resolved in the far field, if they oscillate out of phase. Possible super-resolution using resonant excitation of whispering gallery modes is also studied.
V. N. Astratov, A. V. Maslov, K. W. Allen, N. Farahi, Y. Li, A. Brettin, N. I. Limberopoulos, D. E. Walker Jr., A. M. Urbas, V. Liberman, and M. Rothschild, "Fundamental limits of super-resolution microscopy by dielectric microspheres and microfibers," Proc. SPIE 9721, Nanoscale Imaging, Sensing, and Actuation for Biomedical Applications XIII, 97210K (Presented at SPIE BiOS: February 17, 2016; Published: 22 April 2016); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2212762.
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