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Nat Commun. 2011;2:218. doi: 10.1038/ncomms1211.

Optical virtual imaging at 50 nm lateral resolution with a white-light nanoscope.

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Laser Processing Research Centre, School of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Civil Engineering, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK.


The imaging resolution of a conventional optical microscope is limited by diffraction to ~200 nm in the visible spectrum. Efforts to overcome such limits have stimulated the development of optical nanoscopes using metamaterial superlenses, nanoscale solid immersion lenses and molecular fluorescence microscopy. These techniques either require an illuminating laser beam to resolve to 70 nm in the visible spectrum or have limited imaging resolution above 100 nm for a white-light source. Here we report a new 50-nm-resolution nanoscope that uses optically transparent microspheres (for example, SiO₂, with 2 μm<diameter<9 μm) as far-field superlenses (FSL) to overcome the white-light diffraction limit. The microsphere nanoscope operates in both transmission and reflection modes, and generates magnified virtual images with a magnification up to ×8. It may provide new opportunities to image viruses and biomolecules in real time.


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