New lens beats diffraction barrier


Rebecca Pool

Monday, April 10, 2017 - 20:00
Driving super resolution imaging forward: Professor Hong Minghui, Dr Qin Fei and Associate Professor Qiu Cheng Wei from the National University of Singapore [NUS]
Singapore-based researchers have unveiled at novel lens with sub-diffraction resolution and an ultra-long working distance for high precision failure inspection and biological research.
Developed by Professors Hong Minghui and Qiu Cheng Wei from the National University of Singapore Faculty of Engineering, the planar metalens achieves super-resolution imaging in the far-field, enabling optical microscopes to capture images in real-time and with greater detail beyond the diffraction limit.
Crucially, the imaging process does not require any pre-treatment of samples or post-processing of the image.
As Hong says: “Our breakthrough is achieved in a totally non-invasive manner, coupled with the capability of real-time imaging."
According to the researchers, the high-performance, ultra-thin lens has extraordinary capabilities in light modulation, as compared to a traditional 3D, bulky optical lens.
Based on the concept of an optimised planar metalens, the lens was developed using a new algorithm and can be easily fabricated by a commercial laser pattern generator at high speed and low cost.
The researchers have demonstrated an imaging resolution of 65 nm using the lens - typical microscopes  have a 120 nm imaging resolution - as well as a significantly longer working distance of 55 microns.
“Using a lens with microscale feature size, we have achieved nanoscale imaging resolution," highlights Qiu. "Our invention could potentially bridge the wide gap between laboratory proof-of-concept demonstrations and practical applications for the super-resolution imaging technique.”
Research is published in Advanced Materials.
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