An environmental cell with a 50-nm-thick cathodoluminescent window was attached to a scanning electron microscope, and diffraction-unlimited near-field optical imaging of unstained living human lung epithelial cells in liquid was demonstrated. Electrons with energies as low as 0.8 - 1.2 kV are sufficiently blocked by the window without damaging the specimens, and form a sub-wavelength-sized illumination light source. A super-resolved optical image of the specimen adhered to the opposite window surface was acquired by a photomultiplier tube placed below. The cells after the observation were proved to stay alive. The image was formed by enhanced dipole radiation or energy transfer, and features as small as 62 nm were resolved.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics