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Nanoscale optical microscopy is reporting that scientists led by Xiang Zhang at UCB have a paper in Science documenting the ability to do "optical" imaging in the range of 40-60nm. They are using 365nm UV radiation and a silver film "superlens" with a negative refractive index to transcend the normal diffraction limits of optical imaging. Their results are nearly an order of magnitude smaller than conventional optical microscopy methods. Optical imaging is faster than electron microscope imaging because you don't have to scan the e-beam across the material being imaged.

One application which may push its development would be the direct imaging of semiconductor chips as the pass through the next two generations of photolithography at 65nm and 45-40nm. It is also worth noting that at these dimensions one could probably make a movie recording the motion of Drexler's classical assembler arm performing assembly processes.

2 Responses to “Nanoscale optical microscopy”

  1. rpiquepa Says:

    A Superlens for Nanoscale Optical Imaging

    Scanning electron and atomic force microscopes can capture detail down to a few nanometers, but they need minutes to take an image, while this new superlens can take snapshots in a fraction of a second even if it only has a resolution of 60 nanometers. In the short term, this superlens will lead to new nanoscale biomedical imaging devices. But it also can lead to other advances in nanoengineering such as higher density electronic circuitry or faster fiber optic communications systems. The researchers even think that this superlens could lead to more detailed views of other planets as well as of human movements checked through surveillance satellites. If you want more details, please check this overview which contains other details, pictures and references about this superlens.

  2. RobertBradbury Says:


    SpaceDaily has a comment on the superlens technology here.

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