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A non-destructive method for chemical imaging with ˜1 nm to 10 μm spatial resolution (depending on the type of heat source) without sample preparation and in a non-contact manner. In one embodiment, a sample undergoes photo-thermal heating using an IR laser and the resulting increase in thermal emissions is measured with either an IR detector or a laser probe having a visible laser reflected from the sample. In another embodiment, the infrared laser is replaced with a focused electron or ion source while the thermal emission is collected in the same manner as with the infrared heating. The achievable spatial resolution of this embodiment is in the 1-50 nm range.