Tomography has enabled the characterization of the Earth's interior, visualization of the inner workings of the human brain, and three-dimensional reconstruction of matter at the atomic scale. However, tomographic techniques that rely on optical excitation or detection are generally limited in their resolution by diffraction. Here, we introduce a tomographic technique—cathodoluminescence spectroscopic tomography—to probe optical properties in three dimensions with nanometre-scale spatial and spectral resolution. We first obtain two-dimensional cathodoluminescence maps of a three-dimensional nanostructure at various orientations. We then use the method of filtered back-projection to reconstruct the cathodoluminescence intensity at each wavelength. The resulting tomograms allow us to locate regions of efficient cathodoluminescence in three dimensions across visible and near-infrared wavelengths, with contributions from material luminescence and radiative decay of electromagnetic eigenmodes. The experimental signal can be further correlated with the radiative local density of optical states in particular regions of the reconstruction. We demonstrate how cathodoluminescence tomography can be used to achieve nanoscale three-dimensional visualization of light–matter interactions by reconstructing a three-dimensional metal–dielectric nanoresonator.

Nature Nanotechnol.
Photonic Materials

Atre, A. C., Brenny, B., Coenen, T., Polman, A., & Dionne, J. (2015). Nanoscale optical tomography with cathodoluminescence spectroscopy. Nat. Nanotechnol., 10(5), 429–436. doi:10.1038/nnano.2015.39