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

Concept: Diffraction grating


A fiber optic sensor developed for the measurement of tendon forces was designed, numerically modeled, fabricated, and experimentally evaluated. The sensor incorporated fiber Bragg gratings and micro-fabricated stainless steel housings. A fiber Bragg grating is an optical device that is spectrally sensitive to axial strain. Stainless steel housings were designed to convert radial forces applied to the housing into axial forces that could be sensed by the fiber Bragg grating. The metal housings were fabricated by several methods including laser micromachining, swaging, and hydroforming. Designs are presented that allow for simultaneous temperature and force measurements as well as for simultaneous resolution of multi-axis forces.The sensor was experimentally evaluated by hydrostatic loading and in vitro testing. A commercial hydraulic burst tester was used to provide uniform pressures on the sensor in order to establish the linearity, repeatability, and accuracy characteristics of the sensor. The in vitro experiments were performed in excised tendon and in a dynamic gait simulator to simulate biological conditions. In both experimental conditions, the sensor was found to be a sensitive and reliable method for acquiring minimally invasive measurements of soft tissue forces. Our results suggest that this sensor will prove useful in a variety of biomechanical measurements.

Concepts: Diffraction, Optical fiber, Experiment, In vitro, Test method, Bragg's law, Diffraction grating, Fiber Bragg grating


Studies on the dynamics of holographic pattern formation in photosensitive polymers, gaining deeper insight into the specific material transformations, are essential for improvements in holographic recording as well as in integrated optics. Here we investigate the kinetics of volume hologram formation in an organic cationic ring-opening polymerization system. The time evolution of the grating strength and the grating phase is presented. We found two steps of growth, separated by a depletion of the light diffraction. Capable to explore this growing behavior, a transition-theory of the refractive index contrast is established. Accordingly the growth curves appear to be ruled by the interplay of polymerization and diffusion. Hence the grating formation mechanisms can be qualified as competing effects regarding the contribution to the refractive index change. We investigate the influence of the preparation and exposure procedure on the transition and consider the usability for integrated wave guide functions.

Concepts: Diffraction, Optics, Fundamental physics concepts, Light, Refraction, Refractive index, Wave, Diffraction grating


Colour produced by wavelength-dependent light scattering is a key component of visual communication in nature and acts particularly strongly in visual signalling by structurally-coloured animals during courtship. Two miniature peacock spiders (Maratus robinsoni and M. chrysomelas) court females using tiny structured scales (~ 40 × 10 μm2) that reflect the full visual spectrum. Using TEM and optical modelling, we show that the spiders' scales have 2D nanogratings on microscale 3D convex surfaces with at least twice the resolving power of a conventional 2D diffraction grating of the same period. Whereas the long optical path lengths required for light-dispersive components to resolve individual wavelengths constrain current spectrometers to bulky sizes, our nano-3D printed prototypes demonstrate that the design principle of the peacock spiders' scales could inspire novel, miniature light-dispersive components.

Concepts: Diffraction, Optics, Light, Electromagnetic radiation, Wavelength, Book of Optics, Diffraction grating, Angular resolution


Imaging non-adherent cells by super-resolution far-field fluorescence microscopy is currently not possible because of their rapid movement while in suspension. Holographic optical tweezers (HOTs) enable the ability to freely control the number and position of optical traps, thus facilitating the unrestricted manipulation of cells in a volume around the focal plane. Here we show that immobilizing non-adherent cells by optical tweezers is sufficient to achieve optical resolution well below the diffraction limit using localization microscopy. Individual cells can be oriented arbitrarily but preferably either horizontally or vertically relative to the microscope’s image plane, enabling access to sample sections that are impossible to achieve with conventional sample preparation and immobilization. This opens up new opportunities to super-resolve the nanoscale organization of chromosomal DNA in individual bacterial cells.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Bacteria, Diffraction, Optics, Chromosome, Microscope, Diffraction grating


We show that multi-level diffractive microstructures can enable broadband, on-axis transmissive holograms that can project complex full-color images, which are invariant to viewing angle. Compared to alternatives like metaholograms, diffractive holograms utilize much larger minimum features (>10 µm), much smaller aspect ratios (<0.2) and thereby, can be fabricated in a single lithography step over relatively large areas (>30 mm ×30 mm). We designed, fabricated and characterized holograms that encode various full-color images. Our devices demonstrate absolute transmission efficiencies of >86% across the visible spectrum from 405 nm to 633 nm (peak value of about 92%), and excellent color fidelity. Furthermore, these devices do not exhibit polarization dependence. Finally, we emphasize that our devices exhibit negligible absorption and are phase-only holograms with high diffraction efficiency.

Concepts: Diffraction, Optics, Fundamental physics concepts, Electromagnetic radiation, Holography, Sound, Aspect ratio, Diffraction grating


Metallic components such as plasmonic gratings and plasmonic lenses are routinely used to convert free-space beams into propagating surface plasmon polaritons and vice versa. This generation of couplers handles relatively simple light beams, such as plane waves or Gaussian beams. Here we present a powerful generalization of this strategy to more complex wavefronts, such as vortex beams that carry orbital angular momentum, also known as topological charge. This approach is based on the principle of holography: the coupler is designed as the interference pattern of the incident vortex beam and focused surface plasmon polaritons. We have integrated these holographic plasmonic interfaces into commercial silicon photodiodes, and demonstrated that such devices can selectively detect the orbital angular momentum of light. This holographic approach is very general and can be used to selectively couple free-space beams into any type of surface wave, such as focused surface plasmon polaritons and plasmonic Airy beams.

Concepts: Diffraction, Quantum mechanics, Angular momentum, Light, Coherence, Wave, Surface plasmon resonance, Diffraction grating


We report on stacked high-contrast grating reflectors with virtually angular independent reflectance for transverse-magnetic polarized light. The investigated structure consists of two-layer pairs of amorphous silicon and silicondioxide that are designed for a wavelengths of 1550 nm. The large angular tolerance results from coupling of the two involved silicon gratings and is achieved if the modal fields in the reflectors are matched. With this approach, a reflectance of more than 96% in the entire angular spectrum is feasible. Experimentally we demonstrate a reflectance of more than 98% for incidence angles up to 60° and more than 90% up to 80°.

Concepts: Optics, Fundamental physics concepts, Light, Electromagnetic radiation, Wavelength, Polarization, Amorphous silicon, Diffraction grating


A new approach is developed to fabricate highly oriented mono-domain LCE nano/microstructures through micro-molding in capillaries. Gratings and microwires as two typical examples are fabricated and characterized by polarizing optical microscopy, optical microscopy, and scanning electron microscopy. The gratings with precisely controlled sizes and smooth surface are obtained by filling the channels with a nematic monomer mixture followed by the photo-crosslinking. After peeling off the gratings from the substrate, the free-standing microwires are obtained. A uniform orientation of the mesogenic units is observed for the molds with channel width less than 20 μm. Reversible thermomechanical effect is demonstrated by using the microwires obtained through this approach.

Concepts: Electron, Electron microscope, Microscope, Transmission electron microscopy, Scanning electron microscope, Surface, Liquid crystal, Diffraction grating


We report on an 800 nm center-wavelength metal/multilayer-dielectric grating (MMDG) with broadband, high diffraction efficiency. The trapezoidal grating ridge consists of an HfO2 layer sandwiched between two SiO2 films. Combining the advantages of SiO2 and HfO2, the grating ridge reduces the difficulties of grating ridge attainment. For such a configuration, high-performance MMDG can be successfully fabricated using the existing technology. Experimentally we demonstrated a 163 nm bandwidth MMDG with -1st-order diffraction efficiency greater than 90%. The fabricated MMDG achieved high performance as the design with large fabrication tolerances.

Concepts: Grating, Diffraction grating, High-performance computing


Doping-induced solubility control is a patterning technique for semiconducting polymers, which utilizes the reduction in polymer solubility upon p-type doping to provide direct, optical control of film topography and doping level. In situ direct-write patterning and imaging are demonstrated, revealing sub-diffraction-limited topographic features. Photoinduced force microscopy shows that doping level can be optically modulated with similar resolution.

Concepts: Protein, Diffraction, Optics, Topography, Diffraction grating, P-type semiconductor, Angular resolution, Fraunhofer diffraction