Nanobead-based microscope lens 'can offer imaging advances'

Engineering

Researchers have used nanobeads to create solid 3D superlenses that could improve the capabilities of microscopes.

A team from Bangor University worked alongside Fudan University in China to create minuscule droplet-like lens structures that can be placed on the surfaces being imaged, acting as an additional lens to magnify the surface features.

“Nanobeads have been used to create an innovative new type of microscope lens with the ability to offer enhanced imaging capabilities.“

These spheres break up the light beam and refracts the light, acting as individual torch-like minute beam, extending the resolving ability of the microscope to record-breaking levels and adding fivefold magnification capabilities on top of those offered by existing microscopes.

Unalterable physical laws of light make it impossible to view objects smaller than 200 nm - the smallest size of bacteria - using a normal microscope alone. Superlenses such as this allow that barrier to be broken, and the team has already used the technology to view information encoded on the surface of a Blu-ray disc for the first time.

Efforts will now be made to adapt the technology for use in biology and medicine applications.

Dr Zengbo Wang at Bangor University said: "This would not require the current use of a combination of dyes and stains and laser light, which change the samples being viewed. The new lens will be used to see germs and viruses not previously visible."

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