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Engineers make new materials to increase resolution in a standard microscope

Engineers from the University of California San Diego have developed new technologies that allow ordinary microscopes to see higher resolutions than possible. New technology increases standard light microscope resolution so that it can be used to observe better structures and details in living cells directly. The new material conventional conventional microscope becomes something called “super resolution microscope.”

Electric engineers at the university create engineering materials that are able to shorten light waves such as illuminated samples. The abbreviated light wavelength allows a microscope to draw material in higher resolution. The professor of electrical and computer techniques at UC San Diego, Zhaowei Liu, said the material changed low-resolution light to high resolution light. The professor says the material is very simple and easy to use, requires a sample to be placed on the material, and then everything is placed under a microscope.

No complex modification is needed for samples or microscopes itself. The work overcomes what is a significant limit to conventional light microscope, their low resolution. Light microscope is often used to spur living cells but cannot be used to see something smaller than living cells. The resolution limit on a conventional light microscope is 200 nanometers, which means something closer than the distance cannot be observed as a separate object.

Usually, observing something closer than 200 nanometers requires a stronger microscope, such as an electron microscope that can see some cellular structures. However, the electron microscope cannot observe living cells because the vacuum space is needed for samples. Using new materials, conventional light microscopes can draw the subcellular structure of life with a resolution of up to 40 nanometers.

The material made at the University is a microscope slide that is coated with a type of light shrinkage called hyperbolic material. It was built from a thin layer of nanometer from silver and silica glass alternately that shortened the wavelength of light when the light passed. Imaging techniques create a series of low resolution images captured and put together by reconstruction algorithms that result in high resolution images.

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