The near-field scanning optical microscope (NSOM) is a form of scanning probe microscope that achieves, through the use of the near-field, a spatial resolution significantly superior to that defined by the Abbe diffraction limit. Although the term spatial resolution has a clear meaning, it is often used in different ways in characterizing the NSOM instrument. In this paper, we describe the concept, the cautions, and the general guidelines of a method to measure the spatial resolution of an aperture-type NSOM instrument. As an example, a quantum dot embedded polymer film was prepared and imaged as a test sample, and the determination of the lateral resolution was demonstrated using the described method.
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