Subwavelength-sized aperture fabrication in aluminum by a self-terminated corrosion process in the evanescent field

Haefliger, D.; Stemmer, A.
May 2002
Applied Physics Letters;5/6/2002, Vol. 80 Issue 18, p3397
Academic Journal
We present a simple, one-step process to fabricate apertures of high quality for scanning near-field optical microscope probes based on aluminum-coated silicon-nitride cantilevers. An evanescent optical field at the glass—water interface is used to heat up the aluminum at the tip apex due to light absorption. The heat induces breakdown of the passivating oxide layer and corrosion of the metal. Apertures with a protruding silicon-nitride tip of up to 30 nm height and minimal diameter of 38 nm are fabricated. The diameter is predefined by the lateral dimension of the silicon-nitride tip while the tip height is controlled by the penetration depth of the evanescent field. The corrosion process proves to be self-terminating, yielding highly reproducible tip heights. Near-field optical resolution in the transmission mode of 85 nm is demonstrated.


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