from the phonons-and-photons dept.
Gina Miller writes "Using an instrument much like an atomic force microscope with a platinum tip as an antenna to focus an infrared laser beam, a group of German scientists was able to measure very strong reflection of the laser beam over nanometer-scale patches of scanned crystal surface when the frequency of the laser was very close to the vibration frequency of the crystal. This could lead to determining the composition of the surface to nanometer-scale resolution, or perhaps to building storage devices with 10-nm bits, equivalent to a storage density near 1 Tbit inch-2. See:" Infrared antenna for nano-size mapping of crystal vibrations From: Infrared antenna for nano-size mapping of crystal vibrations
Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Biochemistry in Martinsried near Munich, Germany, have used their infrared near-field microscope to study crystal lattice vibrations (Nature 418, 159, 11th July 2002). … The new technique makes it possible to find out a crystal's chemical identity, and even its structural quality, both with nanometric resolution. This promises interesting applications in materials research in general. It should allow new insight into biominerals such as teeth or bone. Also technical applications e.g. for mass data storage are foreseen.