Dieter Pohl (born 1938) is a German–Swiss physicist. He became known especially for his work in nano-optics, near field optics (NFO), and plasmonics.
Pohl studied at the University of Stuttgart and the Technische Universität München (TUM) where he did his doctorate with Wolfgang Kaiser. In 1968, he moved to IBM Zurich Research Laboratory in Rüschlikon. His research comprises lasers, nonlinear optics, optical data storage, scanning probe microscopy (SPM) and nano-optics/plasmonics.
In 1982 he developed near-field scanning optical microscopy (NSOM/SNOM). It provided for the first time optical resolution beyond Abbe's diffraction limit, e.g. 20 nm at wavelength 515 nm. In the following years the close relation between optical near-fields, plasmons, and antennas was investigated, fueling the emerging field of plasmonics. Dieter Pohl transferred to the University of Basel in 1998 and was appointed titular professor in 2002. There he pursued his concept of the near-field probe as an antenna for optical frequencies. Subsequently, he and his Basel collaborators experimentally verified antennas small enough to be resonant at optical frequency. The demonstration of their properties and extensions had influence on the further development of plasmonics.
In 1992, Pohl organized together with D. Courjon a first workshop on near-field optics (NFO). It became the origin of bi-annual international NFO conferences, nowadays a platform for nano-optics, near-field microscopy, plasmonics, metamaterials, quantum information, biosensing and ultrafast dynamics. He contributed articles to various books in this field. A complete list of his papers and inventions will be found on his home page.