Research

As scientists and engineers explore ever deeper into the nanometer-scale world, it is becoming increasingly important to develop techniques that can both image and manipulate structural features on that tiny length scale. Much of the work in our laboratory centers on just such a technique, tip-enhanced fluorescence microscopy (TEFM), which has its roots in other scanning-probe methods such as scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) and atomic force microscopy (AFM).

We continue to develop and use TEFM as a tool to study the nanometer-scale structure of biological systems, and the so-called near-field interactions between light and matter, namely those that occur at distances much smaller than the wavelength of light. Nanoscale light-matter interactions are of fundamental importance for a host of phenomena and emerging nanotechnology applications. This page summarizes our research and links to more detailed descriptions of individual projects.


Introduction to TEFM

TEFM zoom In tip-enhanced fluorescence microscopy, the tip of a sharp needle is used to concentrate (enhance) the intensity of a laser beam, much like a lightning rod does for static electric fields. The enhancement strength depends on the shape of the tip, its material, and the laser wavelength, while the spatial extent of enhancement is determined by the tip sharpness. Images are generated by raster-scanning a sample laterally through the region of enhanced intensity while collecting the fluorescence emission with a lens. Read more...


Pushing Tip-Enhanced Microscopy to the Limit

Membrane Patch We want to use TEFM to determine the arrangement of molecules within complex biological structures, such as membranes, protein networks/complexes, and viruses, in order to better understand the relationship between structure and function in these systems. This requires a combination of nanoscale spatial resolution, single-molecule sensitivity, chemical recognition, and compatibility with aqueous environments. There are a number of formidable challenges that must be overcome to achieve this desired level of performance. Read more...


Investigating Nanoscale Energy Transfer

Nanotube energy transfer Nanostructures with sharp facets such as lightning rods, optical antennas, and roughened surfaces can alter the interactions between light and matter. We recently began exploring the resonant energy transfer from individual quantum dots to single carbon nanotubes, revealing novel effects that are relevant to optoelectronic applications. To investigate these amd other tip-sample interactions, we developed a three-dimensional optical tomography technique, which has yielded interesting insights and has led to improvements in TEFM performance. Read more...


Prof. Jordan Gerton | James Fletcher Building | Room 314 | 115 South 1400 East | Salt Lake City, UT | 84112
Office: +1-801-585-0068 | Lab: +1-801-581-5078 | Email: jgertonphysics.utah.edu