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

Concept: Telescope


Spatial resolution, spectral contrast and occlusion are three major bottlenecks for non-invasive inspection of complex samples with current imaging technologies. We exploit the sub-picosecond time resolution along with spectral resolution provided by terahertz time-domain spectroscopy to computationally extract occluding content from layers whose thicknesses are wavelength comparable. The method uses the statistics of the reflected terahertz electric field at subwavelength gaps to lock into each layer position and then uses a time-gated spectral kurtosis to tune to highest spectral contrast of the content on that specific layer. To demonstrate, occluding textual content was successfully extracted from a packed stack of paper pages down to nine pages without human supervision. The method provides over an order of magnitude enhancement in the signal contrast and can impact inspection of structural defects in wooden objects, plastic components, composites, drugs and especially cultural artefacts with subwavelength or wavelength comparable layers.

Concepts: Diffraction, Optics, Fundamental physics concepts, Light, Layer, Wavelength, Telescope, OSI model


Suffering from giant size of objective lenses and infeasible manipulations of distant targets, telescopes could not seek helps from present super-resolution imaging, such as scanning near-field optical microscopy, perfect lens and stimulated emission depletion microscopy. In this paper, local light diffraction shrinkage associated with optical super-oscillatory phenomenon is proposed for real-time and optically restoring super-resolution imaging information in a telescope system. It is found that fine target features concealed in diffraction-limited optical images of a telescope could be observed in a small local field of view, benefiting from a relayed metasurface-based super-oscillatory imaging optics in which some local Fourier components beyond the cut-off frequency of telescope could be restored. As experimental examples, a minimal resolution to 0.55 of Rayleigh criterion is obtained, and imaging complex targets and large targets by superimposing multiple local fields of views are demonstrated as well. This investigation provides an access for real-time, incoherent and super-resolution telescopes without the manipulation of distant targets. More importantly, it gives counterintuitive evidence to the common knowledge that relayed optics could not deliver more imaging details than objective systems.

Concepts: Diffraction, Optics, Microscope, Wavelength, Lens, Telescope, F-number, Angular resolution


The performances of a newly developed 80-200 kV cold field emission gun (CFEG) transmission electron microscope (TEM) integrating a spherical aberration corrector for a TEM image-forming lens have been evaluated. To begin, we show that the stability of both emission and probe currents makes use of this new CFEG much friendlier. The energy spread of electrons emitted from the CFEG has been measured as a function of emission current and shows a very last 0.26 eV energy resolution at 200 kV and even 0.23 eV at 80 kV. The combination of the CFEG and the CEOS™ aberration corrector, associated with enhanced mechanical and electrical stabilities of this new microscope, allows reaching an information transfer below 75 pm at 200 and 80 pm at 80 kV. This unseen resolution at 200 kV has allowed us to study the structure of CoPt nanoparticles by observing direct images of their atomic arrangement along the high indexes zone axis. We have evidenced the presence of defects in these nanostructures that are not parallel to the electron beam. The precise stoichiometry of two iron oxides, FeO and Fe(2)O(3), has been determined from an analysis of iron valence state that was obtained from a direct analysis of EELS fine structures spectrum of the two oxides.

Concepts: Electron, Electron microscope, Quantum mechanics, Optics, Electric current, Scanning electron microscope, Lens, Telescope


The most popular and ‘gold standard’ phenomenon in Biological dosimetry is the appearance of dicentric chromosomes in metaphase in white blood cells. The metaphase finder is a tool for biological dosimetry that finds metaphase cells on slide glasses. The author and a software company were using new special software that was faster than conventional systems. A Nikon Eclipse Ni-E microscope with motorised X-Y stage, 4× objective lens and 1920 × 1024 pixels colour camera for hardware were used. The software uses mathematical morphology filters. The new system was compact and low-priced. And the remarkable point is, this system can be applicable not only to human blood, but also to non-human samples. The speed was 208-236 s per 5 × 20 mm area, while capturing 378 images, which achieved the aim of the project. The false-positive ratio achieved below 5% in some slides.

Concepts: White blood cell, DNA, Gene, Human, Blood, Species, Chromosome, Telescope


Scallops possess a visual system comprising up to 200 eyes, each containing a concave mirror rather than a lens to focus light. The hierarchical organization of the multilayered mirror is controlled for image formation, from the component guanine crystals at the nanoscale to the complex three-dimensional morphology at the millimeter level. The layered structure of the mirror is tuned to reflect the wavelengths of light penetrating the scallop’s habitat and is tiled with a mosaic of square guanine crystals, which reduces optical aberrations. The mirror forms images on a double-layered retina used for separately imaging the peripheral and central fields of view. The tiled, off-axis mirror of the scallop eye bears a striking resemblance to the segmented mirrors of reflecting telescopes.

Concepts: Optics, Light, Eye, Visual perception, Visual system, Lens, Telescope, Mirror


Selective plane illumination microscopy (SPIM a type of light-sheet microscopy) involves focusing a thin sheet of laser light through a specimen at right angles to the objective lens. As only the thin section of the specimen at the focal plane of the lens is illuminated, out of focus light is naturally absent and toxicity due to light (phototoxicity) is greatly reduced enabling longer term live imaging. OpenSPIM is an open access platform (Pitrone et al. 2013 and created to give new users step-by-step instructions on building a basic configuration of a SPIM microscope, which can in principle be adapted and upgraded to each laboratory’s own requirements and budget. Here we describe our own experience with the process of designing, building, configuring and using an OpenSPIM for our research into the early development of the polyclad flatworm Maritigrella crozieri - a non-model animal.

Concepts: Optics, Light, Laser, Microscope, Lens, Focus, Telescope, Eyepiece


Cellphones equipped with high-quality cameras and powerful CPUs as well as GPUs are widespread. This opens new prospects to use such existing computational and imaging resources to perform medical diagnosis in developing countries at a very low cost. Many relevant samples, like biological cells or waterborn parasites, are almost fully transparent. As they do not exhibit absorption, but alter the light’s phase only, they are almost invisible in brightfield microscopy. Expensive equipment and procedures for microscopic contrasting or sample staining often are not available. Dedicated illumination approaches, tailored to the sample under investigation help to boost the contrast. This is achieved by a programmable illumination source, which also allows to measure the phase gradient using the differential phase contrast (DPC) [1, 2] or even the quantitative phase using the derived qDPC approach [3]. By applying machine-learning techniques, such as a convolutional neural network (CNN), it is possible to learn a relationship between samples to be examined and its optimal light source shapes, in order to increase e.g. phase contrast, from a given dataset to enable real-time applications. For the experimental setup, we developed a 3D-printed smartphone microscope for less than 100 $ using off-the-shelf components only such as a low-cost video projector. The fully automated system assures true Koehler illumination with an LCD as the condenser aperture and a reversed smartphone lens as the microscope objective. We show that the effect of a varied light source shape, using the pre-trained CNN, does not only improve the phase contrast, but also the impression of an improvement in optical resolution without adding any special optics, as demonstrated by measurements.

Concepts: Optics, Microscope, Microscopy, Lighting, Lens, Mobile phone, Telescope, Photographic lens


Immersion objectives can focus light into a spot smaller than what is achievable in free space, thereby enhancing the spatial resolution for various applications such as microscopy, spectroscopy, and lithography. Despite the availability of advanced lens polishing techniques, hand-polishing is still required to manufacture the front lens of an immersion objective, which poses major constraints for lens design. This limits the shape of the front lens to spherical. Therefore, several other lenses need to be cascaded to correct for spherical aberration, resulting in significant challenges for miniaturization and adding design complexity for different immersion liquids. Here, by using metasurfaces, we demonstrate liquid immersion meta-lenses free of spherical aberration at various design wavelengths in the visible spectrum. We report water and oil immersion meta-lenses of various numerical apertures (NA) up to 1.1, and show that their measured focal spot sizes are diffraction-limited with Strehl ratios of approximately 0.9 at 532 nm. By integrating the oil immersion meta-lens (NA = 1.1) into a commercial scanning confocal microscope, we achieve an imaging spatial resolution of approximately 200 nm. These meta-lenses can be easily adapted to focus light through multi-layers of different refractive indices, and also mass-produced using modern industrial manufacturing or nano-imprint techniques, leading to cost effective high-end optics.

Concepts: Optics, Light, Wavelength, Microscopy, Lens, Geometrical optics, Visible spectrum, Telescope


Many platelet functions are dependent on bioactive molecules released from their granules. Deficiencies of these granules in number, shape or content are associated with bleeding. The small size of these granules is such that imaging them for diagnosis has traditionally required electron microscopy. However, recently developed super-resolution microscopes provide sufficient spatial resolution to effectively image platelet granules. When combined with automated image analysis, these methods provide a quantitative, unbiased, rapidly acquired dataset that can readily and reliably reveal differences in platelet granules between individuals.

Concepts: Electron, Electron microscope, Optics, Microscope, Atom, Microscopy, Scanning tunneling microscope, Telescope


We describe a VLBI experiment in which, for the first time, the clock reference is delivered from a National Metrology Institute to a radio telescope using a coherent fibre link 550 km long. The experiment consisted of a 24-hours long geodetic campaign, performed by a network of European telescopes; in one of those (Medicina, Italy) the local clock was alternated with a signal generated from an optical comb slaved to a fibre-disseminated optical signal. The quality of the results obtained with this facility and with the local clock is similar: interferometric fringes were detected throughout the whole 24-hours period and it was possible to obtain a solution whose residuals are comparable to those obtained with the local clock. These results encourage further investigation of the ultimate VLBI performances achievable using fibre dissemination at the highest precision of state-of-the-art atomic clocks.

Concepts: Resonance, Telescope, Atomic clock, Clocks, Quartz clock, Very Long Baseline Interferometry, National Institute of Standards and Technology