Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

World's most powerful optical microscope: Microscope could 'solve the cause of viruses'

Date:
March 2, 2011
Source:
University of Manchester
Summary:
Scientists have produced the world's most powerful optical microscope, which could help us understand the causes of many viruses and diseases.

Scientists have created a microscope which shatters the record for the smallest object the eye can see, beating the diffraction limit of light.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of Manchester

Scientists have produced the world's most powerful optical microscope, which could help us to understand the causes of many diseases. Writing in the journal Nature Communications, the team have created a microscope which shatters the record for the smallest object the eye can see, beating the diffraction limit of light.

Previously, the standard optical microscope could only see items around one micrometer -- 0.001 millimeters -- clearly.

But now, by combining an optical microscope with a transparent microsphere, dubbed the 'microsphere nanoscope', the Manchester researchers can see 20 times smaller -- 50 nanometers ((5 x 10-8m) -- under normal light. This is beyond the theoretical limit of optical microscopy.

This greatly-increased capacity means the scientists, led by Professor Lin Li and Dr Zengbo Wang, could potentially examine the inside of human cells, and examine live viruses in great detail for the first time.

The scientists, from the School of Mechanical, Aerospace and Civil Engineering, now believe they can use the microscope to detect far smaller images in the future. The new method has no theoretical limit in the size of a feature that can be seen.

The new nano-imaging system is based on capturing optical, near-field virtual images, which are free from optical diffraction, and amplifying them using a microsphere, a tiny spherical particle which is further relayed and amplified by a standard optical microscope.

Professor Li, who initiated and led the research in collaboration with academics at the National University and Data Storage Institute of Singapore, believes their research could prove to be an important development.

He said: "This is a world record in terms of how small an optical microscope can go by direct imaging under a light source covering the whole range of optical spectrum.

"Not only have we been able to see items of 50 nanometers, we believe that is just the start and we will be able to see far smaller items.

"Theoretically, there is no limit on how small an object we will be able to see.

"The common way of seeing tiny items presently is with an electron microscope, and even then you cannot see inside a cell -- only the outside. Optical fluoresce microscopes can see inside the cells indirectly by dying them, but these dyes cannot penetrate viruses.

"Seeing inside a cell directly without dying and seeing living viruses directly could revolutionize the way cells are studied and allow us to examine closely viruses and biomedicine for the first time."

Among other tiny objects the scientists will be able to examine are anodized aluminum oxide nano-structures, and nano-patterns on Blue-Ray CVC disks, not previously visible with an optical microscope.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Manchester. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Zengbo Wang, Wei Guo, Lin Li, Boris Luk'yanchuk, Ashfaq Khan, Zhu Liu, Zaichun Chen, Minghui Hong. Optical virtual imaging at 50 nm lateral resolution with a white-light nanoscope. Nat. Commun., 01 Mar, 2 218 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms1211

Cite This Page:

University of Manchester. "World's most powerful optical microscope: Microscope could 'solve the cause of viruses'." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 March 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110301121952.htm>.
University of Manchester. (2011, March 2). World's most powerful optical microscope: Microscope could 'solve the cause of viruses'. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110301121952.htm
University of Manchester. "World's most powerful optical microscope: Microscope could 'solve the cause of viruses'." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110301121952.htm (accessed July 30, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Climate Change Could Cost Billions, According To White House

Climate Change Could Cost Billions, According To White House

Newsy (July 29, 2014) A report from the White House warns not curbing greenhouse gas emissions could cost the U.S. billions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stranded Whale Watching Boat Returns to Boston

Stranded Whale Watching Boat Returns to Boston

Reuters - US Online Video (July 29, 2014) Passengers stuck overnight on a whale watching boat return safely to Boston. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Baluchistan Mining Eyes an Uncertain Future

Baluchistan Mining Eyes an Uncertain Future

AFP (July 29, 2014) Coal mining is one of the major industries in Baluchistan but a lack of infrastructure and frequent accidents mean that the area has yet to hit its potential. Duration: 01:58 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short

Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short

AP (July 29, 2014) The U.S. nuclear industry started building its first new plants using prefabricated Lego-like blocks meant to save time and prevent the cost overruns that crippled the sector decades ago. So far, it's not working. (July 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins