--RikLight-shrinking material lets ordinary microscope see in super resolution
...improves the resolution of an ordinary light microscope so that it can be used to directly observe finer structures and details in living cells.
"This material converts low resolution light to high resolution light," said Zhaowei Liu, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at UC San Diego. "It's very simple and easy to use. Just place a sample on the material, then put the whole thing under a normal microscope—no fancy modification needed."
The technology turns a conventional light microscope into what's called a super-resolution microscope. It involves a specially engineered material that shortens the wavelength of light as it illuminates the sample—this shrunken light is what essentially enables the microscope to image in higher resolution.
The technology consists of a microscope slide that's coated with a type of light-shrinking material called a hyperbolic metamaterial. It is made up of nanometers-thin alternating layers of silver and silica glass. As light passes through, its wavelengths shorten and scatter to generate a series of random high-resolution speckled patterns. When a sample is mounted on the slide, it gets illuminated in different ways by this series of speckled light patterns. This creates a series of low resolution images, which are all captured and then pieced together by a reconstruction algorithm to produce a high resolution image.