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


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


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


Holographic techniques are fundamental to applications such as volumetric displays, high-density data storage and optical tweezers that require spatial control of intricate optical or acoustic fields within a three-dimensional volume. The basis of holography is spatial storage of the phase and/or amplitude profile of the desired wavefront in a manner that allows that wavefront to be reconstructed by interference when the hologram is illuminated with a suitable coherent source. Modern computer-generated holography skips the process of recording a hologram from a physical scene, and instead calculates the required phase profile before rendering it for reconstruction. In ultrasound applications, the phase profile is typically generated by discrete and independently driven ultrasound sources; however, these can only be used in small numbers, which limits the complexity or degrees of freedom that can be attained in the wavefront. Here we introduce monolithic acoustic holograms, which can reconstruct diffraction-limited acoustic pressure fields and thus arbitrary ultrasound beams. We use rapid fabrication to craft the holograms and achieve reconstruction degrees of freedom two orders of magnitude higher than commercial phased array sources. The technique is inexpensive, appropriate for both transmission and reflection elements, and scales well to higher information content, larger aperture size and higher power. The complex three-dimensional pressure and phase distributions produced by these acoustic holograms allow us to demonstrate new approaches to controlled ultrasonic manipulation of solids in water, and of liquids and solids in air. We expect that acoustic holograms will enable new capabilities in beam-steering and the contactless transfer of power, improve medical imaging, and drive new applications of ultrasound.

Concepts: Diffraction, Coherence, Acoustics, Ultrasound, Holography, Diffraction grating, Volumetric display, Interferometric microscopy


Current reported smartphone spectrometers are only used to monitor or measure one sample at a time. For the first time, we demonstrate a multichannel smartphone spectrometer (MSS) as an optical biosensor that can simultaneously optical sense multiple samples. In this work, we developed a novel method to achieve the multichannel optical spectral sensing with nanometer resolution on a smartphone. A 3D printed cradle held the smartphone integrated with optical components. This optical sensor performed accurate and reliable spectral measurements by optical intensity changes at specific wavelength or optical spectral shifts. A custom smartphone multi-view App was developed to control the optical sensing parameters and to align each sample to the corresponding channel. The captured images were converted to the transmission spectra in the visible wavelength range from 400nm to 700nm with the high resolution of 0.2521nm per pixel. We validated the performance of this MSS via measuring the concentrations of protein and immunoassaying a type of human cancer biomarker. Compared to the standard laboratory instrument, the results sufficiently showed that this MSS can achieve the comparative analysis detection limits, accuracy and sensitivity. We envision that this multichannel smartphone optical biosensor will be useful in high-throughput point-of-care diagnostics with its minimizing size, light weight, low cost and data transmission function.

Concepts: Light, Electromagnetic radiation, Measurement, Electromagnetic spectrum, Wavelength, Sensors, Visible spectrum, Diffraction grating