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Nanobeads Used to Create Superlens

Category: Science & Technology
Posted: 11:25AM

Microscopes are an amazing tool and have been ever since the first one was created, but we have been running up against their limits. Optical microscopes cannot resolve objects smaller than 200 nm, which is the size of the smallest bacteria because of certain laws of physics, but they can be given a helping hand. Researchers at Bangor University have created a new superlens that allows smaller objects and shapes to be seen, even the patterns on Blu-Ray discs.

These superlenses are made of nanobeads, which are objects we can find all around us, even if you are not aware of them. They are used in some paints and in sun-screen, and for the superlenses titanium dioxide (TiO2) beads are used. The reason for these specific beads is their high refractive index and how a sphere of them will break up a light beam. The nanobeads are deposited as a droplet containing millions onto the subject being put under a microscope, and these beads refract the light in a way to creates millions of individual beams. These light beams are what an optical microscope can capture and use to resolve details previously invisible.

Using these nanobead superlenses can increase the magnification of a microscope by a factor of five, which should be enough to reveal germs and viruses. Not too bad considering these nanobeads are actually fairly cheap and readily available.

Source: Bangor University

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