Near-field infrared microscopy of nanometer-sized nickel clusters inside single-walled carbon nanotubes†
Nickel nanoclusters grown inside single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNT) were studied by infrared scattering-type scanning near-field optical microscopy (s-SNOM). The metal clusters give high local contrast enhancement in near-field phase maps caused by the excitation of free charge carriers. The experimental results are supported by calculations using the finite dipole model, approximating the clusters with elliptical nanoparticles. Compared to magnetic force microscopy, s-SNOM appears much more sensitive to detect metal clusters inside carbon nanotubes. We estimate that these clusters contain fewer than ≈700 Ni atoms.