Selective photomodification of fractal aggregates of silver nanoparticles i
s studied experimentally by photon-scanning-tunneling microscopy. Near-fiel
d optical images of the aggregates before and after photomodification show
changes in the distribution of local electromagnetic fields in the near zon
e at subwavelength scale. These changes are much stronger than those measur
ed in the far field. Results from numerical modeling of photomodification a
re in qualitative agreement with the experimental observations. (C) 2001 Op
tical Society of America.