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Researchers from Northeastern University's Electronic Materials Research Institute have developed a novel three-dimensional nanolens, providing for more accurate and detailed imaging of objects in the nanoscale.
Funded by the National Science Foundation and the United States Air Force, the researchers used nanomaterials to manufacture a new superlens that allows objects as small as a few nanometers in size to be seen clearly through the lens, a vast improvement over current imaging technologies. The superlens is made from metamaterials - manufactured materials not found in nature - and has superior imaging capabilities compared to current imaging technologies.
This research, featured in the January 11 edition of the journal Applied Physics Letters, was conducted by Bernard Didier Frederic Casse, a physics research scientist, and Srinivas Sridhar, Ph.D., distinguished professor and chair of the physics department, both at Northeastern.
"We have entered a new era in physics research where we are using the properties of nanomaterials to improve imaging technology," said Casse.
Conventional lenses to construct an image of an object only using ordinary waves, discarding information regarding the fine, tiny details of the object that are contained in "evanescent" waves. For this reason, conventional optical systems, such as microscopes, cannot accurately image very small, nano-sized objects.
Using a different approach, the research team organized and packaged nanowires to design a new type of lens. By precisely aligning and arranging millions of nanowires - each one measuring 20 nanometers in diameter - they were able to control how light passed through the lens. The lens is able to depict a clear, high-resolution image of nano-sized objects because it uses both the ordinary and evanescent waves to construct the image.
"This is the best superlens realized so far and is a significant development in the field of high resolution optical imaging," said Sridhar.
Following the development of this superlens, the researchers expect that the technology can be used to improve biomedical imaging and lithography techniques.
"We have the capability for the large-scale production of these nanolenses and hope to manufacture these devices in the near future," added Sridhar.
Others involved in this research project include Wentao Lu, Latika Menon, Yongjiang Huang and Evin Gultepe, all from the Electronic Materials Research Institute.
About Northeastern University
Founded in 1898, Northeastern is a private research university located in the heart of Boston, and a leader in experiential learning, urban engagement, and in interdisciplinary research that meets global and societal needs. Our broad mix of experience-based education programs — our signature cooperative education program, student research, service learning, and global learning — build the connections and confidence that enable students to transform their lives. The university offers a comprehensive range of undergraduate and graduate programs leading to degrees through the doctorate in seven undergraduate colleges, seven graduate schools, and two part-time divisions.
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