Observation of subcellular nanostructure of single neurons with an illumination mode photon scanning tunneling microscope

Rajagopalan Umamaheswari, H. Tatsumi, Y. Katayama, M. Ohtsu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

30 Citations (Scopus)


We report about the observation of microtubules lying underneath the cell membrane of neural process in neurons with a resolution as high as that of an electron microscope by an illumination mode photon scanning tunneling microscope. Nanoapertures used in our observations were fabricated by means of selective chemical etching and metal coating of an optical fiber. The narrowest observed tube has got an average diameter of 26 nm. Comparing this with its nominal value of 25 nm, the difference which is considered as a measure of resolution (δ) is 1 nm implying a resolution comparable to that of an electron microscope in imaging dielectric specimens. This was possible due to the presence of a boundary between the glass and the metal coating and also due to the use of an aperture of almost the same size as that of the microtubule that enhances the detection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)325-334
Number of pages10
JournalOptics Communications
Issue number5-6
Publication statusPublished - 1995 Nov 1
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering

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