Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Depth of field


Focal adjustment and zooming are universal features of cameras and advanced optical systems. Such tuning is usually performed longitudinally along the optical axis by mechanical or electrical control of focal length. However, the recent advent of ultrathin planar lenses based on metasurfaces (metalenses), which opens the door to future drastic miniaturization of mobile devices such as cell phones and wearable displays, mandates fundamentally different forms of tuning based on lateral motion rather than longitudinal motion. Theory shows that the strain field of a metalens substrate can be directly mapped into the outgoing optical wavefront to achieve large diffraction-limited focal length tuning and control of aberrations. We demonstrate electrically tunable large-area metalenses controlled by artificial muscles capable of simultaneously performing focal length tuning (>100%) as well as on-the-fly astigmatism and image shift corrections, which until now were only possible in electron optics. The device thickness is only 30 μm. Our results demonstrate the possibility of future optical microscopes that fully operate electronically, as well as compact optical systems that use the principles of adaptive optics to correct many orders of aberrations simultaneously.

Concepts: Optics, Microscope, Lens, Photography, Wavefront, Focal length, Photographic lens, Depth of field


We exploit the inherent dispersion in diffractive optics to demonstrate planar chromatic-aberration-corrected lenses. Specifically, we designed, fabricated and characterized cylindrical diffractive lenses that efficiently focus the entire visible band (450 nm to 700 nm) onto a single line. These devices are essentially pixelated, multi-level microstructures. Experiments confirm an average optical efficiency of 25% for a three-wavelength apochromatic lens whose chromatic focus shift is only 1.3 μm and 25 μm in the lateral and axial directions, respectively. Super-achromatic performance over the continuous visible band is also demonstrated with averaged lateral and axial focus shifts of only 1.65 μm and 73.6 μm, respectively. These lenses are easy to fabricate using single-step grayscale lithography and can be inexpensively replicated. Furthermore, these devices are thin (<3 μm), error tolerant, has low aspect ratio (<1:1) and offer polarization-insensitive focusing, all significant advantages compared to alternatives that rely on metasurfaces. Our design methodology offers high design flexibility in numerical aperture and focal length, and is readily extended to 2D.

Concepts: Optics, Magnification, Lens, Focus, Focal length, Photographic lens, F-number, Depth of field


The control problem in ultrasound therapy is to destroy the tumor tissue while not harming the intervening healthy tissue with a desired temperature elevation. The objective of this research is to present a robust and feasible method to control the temperature distribution and the temperature elevation in treatment region within the prescribed time, which can improve the curative effect and decrease the treatment time for heating large tumor (⩾2.0cm in diameter). An adaptive self-tuning-regulator (STR) controller has been introduced into this control method by adding a time factor with a recursive algorithm, and the speed of sound and absorption coefficient of the medium is considered as a function of temperature during heating. The presented control method is tested for a self-focused concave spherical transducer (0.5MHz, 9cm aperture, 8.0cm focal length) through numerical simulations with three control temperatures of 43°C, 50°C and 55°C. The results suggest that this control system has adaptive ability for variable parameters and has a rapid response to the temperature and acoustic power output in the prescribed time for the hyperthermia interest. There is no overshoot during temperature elevation and no oscillation after reaching the desired temperatures. It is found that the same results can be obtained for different frequencies and temperature elevations. This method can obtain an ellipsoid-shaped ablation region, which is meaningful for the treatment of large tumor.

Concepts: Heat, Acoustics, Control theory, Physical quantities, Feedback, Sound, Length, Depth of field


In this Letter, multifocus optical-resolution photoacoustic microscopy is demonstrated using wavelength tuning and chromatic aberration for depth scanning. Discrete focal zones at several depth locations were created by refocusing light from a polarization-maintaining single-mode fiber pumped by a nanosecond fiber laser. The fiber and laser parameters were chosen to take advantage of stimulated Raman scattering (SRS) in the fiber to create a multiwavelength output that could then be bandpass filtered. The collimator lens and objective lens are chosen to take advantage of chromatic aberration in which each generated SRS wavelength peak focuses at a slightly different depth. The maximum amplitude of photoacoustic signals is mapped to form C-scan images. Additionally, all wavelength peaks fired simultaneously offers improved depth-of-field structural imaging at the cost of slight degradation of mainlobe-to-sidelobe ratios. Wavelength-tuned depth scanning over more than 440 μm is demonstrated, significantly greater than the ∼100  μm depth of field predicted from our focused Gaussian beams. The improved depth of focus could be valuable for structural imaging of microvascular morphology without the need for mechanical scanning in the depth direction.

Concepts: Optics, Laser, Lens, Raman scattering, Geometrical optics, Rayleigh scattering, Depth of field, Fiber laser


BACKGROUND: Optimizing operational parameters of the digital microscope system is an important technique to acquire high quality cytogenetic images and facilitate the process of karyotyping so that the efficiency and accuracy of diagnosis can be improved. OBJECTIVE: This study investigated the impact of condenser on cytogenetic image quality and system working performance using a prototype digital microscope image scanning system. METHODS: Both theoretical analysis and experimental validations through objectively evaluating a resolution test chart and subjectively observing large numbers of specimen were conducted. RESULTS: The results show that the optimal image quality and large depth of field (DOF) are simultaneously obtained when the numerical aperture of condenser is set as 60%~70% of the corresponding objective. Under this condition, more analyzable chromosomes and diagnostic information are obtained. As a result, the system shows higher working stability and less restriction for the implementation of algorithms such as autofocusing especially when the system is designed to achieve high throughput continuous image scanning. CONCLUSIONS: Although the above quantitative results were obtained using a specific prototype system under the experimental conditions reported in this paper, the presented evaluation methodologies can provide valuable guidelines for optimizing operational parameters in cytogenetic imaging using the high throughput continuous scanning microscopes in clinical practice.

Concepts: Scientific method, Optics, Evaluation, Microscope, Aperture, F-number, Depth of field, Microscopes


We have developed a powerful general spectroscopic method for rapidly screening liquid milk for adulterants by combining reflective focusing wells simply fabricated in aluminum with a small, portable Raman spectrometer with a focusing fiber optic probe. Hemispherical aluminum sample wells were specially designed to optimize internal reflection and sampling volume by matching the focal length of the mirror to the depth of focus of the laser probe. The technique was tested on milk adulterated with 4 different nitrogen-rich compounds (melamine, urea, dicyandiamide, and ammonium sulfate) and sucrose. No sample preparation of the milk was needed, and the total analysis time was 4 min. Reliable sample presentation enabled average reproducibility of 8% residual standard deviation. The limit of detection interval measured from partial least squares calibrations ranged between 140 and 520 mg/L for the 4 N-rich compounds and between 7,000 and 36,000 mg/L (0.7-3.6%) for sucrose. The portability of the system and the reliability and reproducibility of this technique open opportunities for general, reagentless screening of milk for adulterants at the point of collection.

Concepts: Scientific method, Spectroscopy, Regression analysis, Laser, Reflection, Geometrical optics, Focus, Depth of field


The iris, found in many animal species, is a biological tissue that can change the aperture (pupil) size to regulate light transmission into the eye in response to varying illumination conditions. The self-regulation of the eye lies behind its autofocusing ability and large dynamic range, rendering it the ultimate “imaging device” and a continuous source of inspiration in science. In optical imaging devices, adjustable apertures play a vital role as they control the light exposure, the depth of field, and optical aberrations of the systems. Tunable irises demonstrated to date require external control through mechanical actuation, and are not capable of autonomous action in response to changing light intensity without control circuitry. A self-regulating artificial iris would offer new opportunities for device automation and stabilization. Here, this paper reports the first iris-like, liquid crystal elastomer device that can perform automatic shape-adjustment by reacting to the incident light power density. Similar to natural iris, the device closes under increasing light intensity, and upon reaching the minimum pupil size, reduces the light transmission by a factor of seven. The light-responsive materials design, together with photoalignment-based control over the molecular orientation, provides a new approach to automatic, self-regulating optical systems based on soft smart materials.

Concepts: Optics, Eye, Geometrical optics, Photography, Pupil, Aperture, F-number, Depth of field


The focusing performance of a multilayer Laue lens (MLL) with 43.4 μm aperture, 4 nm finest zone width and 4.2 mm focal length at 12 keV was characterized with X-rays using ptychography method. The reconstructed probe shows a full-width-at-half-maximum (FWHM) peak size of 11.2 nm. The obtained X-ray wavefront shows excellent agreement with the dynamical calculations, exhibiting aberrations less than 0.3 wave period, which ensures the MLL capable of producing a diffraction-limited focus while offering a sufficient working distance. This achievement opens up opportunities of incorporating a variety of in-situ experiments into ultra high-resolution X-ray microscopy studies.

Concepts: X-ray, Optics, Electromagnetic radiation, Lens, Length, Focus, Photographic film, Depth of field


Phase distortions due to scattering in random media restrict optical focusing beyond one transport mean free path. However, scattering can be compensated for by applying a correction to the illumination wavefront using spatial light modulators. One method of obtaining the wavefront correction is by iterative determination using an optimization algorithm. In the past, obtaining a feedback signal required either direct optical access to the target region, or invasive embedding of molecular probes within the random media. Here, we propose using ultrasonically encoded light as feedback to guide the optimization dynamically and non-invasively. In our proof-of-principle demonstration, diffuse light was refocused to the ultrasound focal zone, with a focus-to-background ratio of more than one order of magnitude after 600 iterations. With further improvements, especially in optimization speed, the proposed method should find broad applications in deep tissue optical imaging and therapy.

Concepts: Algorithm, Mathematics, Optics, Light, Standard deviation, Polarization, Iterated function, Depth of field


Flat optical devices thinner than a wavelength promise to replace conventional free-space components for wavefront and polarization control. Transmissive flat lenses are particularly interesting for applications in imaging and on-chip optoelectronic integration. Several designs based on plasmonic metasurfaces, high-contrast transmitarrays and gratings have been recently implemented but have not provided a performance comparable to conventional curved lenses. Here we report polarization-insensitive, micron-thick, high-contrast transmitarray micro-lenses with focal spots as small as 0.57 λ. The measured focusing efficiency is up to 82%. A rigorous method for ultrathin lens design, and the trade-off between high efficiency and small spot size (or large numerical aperture) are discussed. The micro-lenses, composed of silicon nano-posts on glass, are fabricated in one lithographic step that could be performed with high-throughput photo or nanoimprint lithography, thus enabling widespread adoption.

Concepts: Optics, Magnification, Lens, Photographic lens, Aperture, F-number, Depth of field, Numerical aperture