Nanolens improves imaging of nanoscale objects

Using nanomaterials researchers from Northeastern University’s Electronic Materials Research Institute have manufactured a superlens that enables objects as small as a few nanometers in size to be seen clearly through the lens.

Using nanomaterials researchers from Northeastern University’s Electronic Materials Research Institute have manufactured a superlens that enables objects as small as a few nanometers in size to be seen clearly through the lens.

Conventional lenses construct an ordinary 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 cannot accurately image nano-sized objects. Using a different approach, precisely aligning and arranging millions of nanowires (each one measuring 20 nm in diameter), the researchers 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.

Following the development of this superlens, the researchers expect that the technology can be used to improve biomedical imaging and lithography techniques.

This research, featured in the January 11 edition of the journal Applied Physics Letters and funded by the National Science Foundation and the United States Air Force, 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. Others involved in this project include Wentao Lu, Latika Menon, Yongjiang Huang, and Evin Gultepe, all from the Electronics Materials Research Institute.

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