Penetrating ever farther into the submicron world, microscope designers have broken through the diffraction barrier that once stood between researchers and the mysterious depths of the nano world.

Simultaneously acquired topographic and NSOM images of j-aggregates of pseudocyanine embedded in polyvinylsulfate. Courtesy of Paul Barbara and Dan Higgins, Univ. of Minnesota
Researchers are now returning from this vast hidden frontier with images that are both startling in their beauty and compelling in their structural complexity. Truly, the visual delights of Earth have nothing that compares with the topography of AlO fibers embedded in an Al matrix, which is evocative of the most exquisite Italian marble, cast in three dimensions and bathed in the scintillating hues of lavender and deep purple. What macroscale artist could imagine in his or her most lucid dreams the brilliant lattice of boron doped with silicon? These near-field images reveal a reality that moves humans one...

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