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We introduce and demonstrate a novel operating mode in near-field optical microscopy. The tip is used to simultaneously optically probe the sample and induce a highly localized strain in the area under study by pushing the tip into the sample. From knowledge of total tip-sample compression and tip geometry, we estimate the magnitude of stress, and show that localized uniaxial-like stresses in excess of 10 kbar can be achieved. We apply this method to a sample of InAlAs self-assembled quantum dots. A blueshift of quantum dot emission lines consistent with estimates of the strain is observed, as well as a quenching of the photoluminescence with strain. © 1998 American Institute of Physics.