Photonics Hot List: May 16, 2022

May 16, 2022
Here’s your Photonics Hot List for May 16, 2022, peeking into what’s happening in the exciting world of photonics.

1. A new imaging technique can resolve nanostructures smaller than the diffraction limit of light without dyes and labels. The new method is essentially a modification of laser scanning microscopy—a way of illuminating a sample using a strongly focused laser beam.

In their work, the research team measured the light’s intensity upon its interaction with a specimen, and could also detect other parameters encrypted within the light field. Specifically, they were able to measure the position and varied sizes of gold nanoparticles at an accuracy of just a few nanometers.

This approach to laser scanning microscopy could become the preferred method for imaging nanostructures, as it’s completely noninvasive.

2. A new self-cleaning optical fiber could mean big things for bio and environmental applications. Developed by researchers in Finland, the multimodal optical fiber features a parabolic refractive index profile that boasts high nonlinearity as well as transmission and power beyond the limitations of conventional optical fibers. By injecting short pulses of light into the fiber, the team vastly broadened into the mid-infrared.

The researchers say the new optical fiber could be used for things like cancer diagnostics, and identifying and monitoring environmental pollutants.

3. Physicists in California have found that a hydrogen molecule could serve as a quantum sensor, prompting unprecedented time and spatial resolution for monitoring and measuring a material’s chemical properties.

The team demonstrated the technique in a scanning tunneling microscope equipped with a terahertz laser. The work involved positioning two bound hydrogen atoms between the microscope’s silver tip and a flat copper surface sample covered with tiny pieces of copper nitride. Laser light pulses lasting just trillionths of a second could excite a hydrogen molecule, and allowed detection of changes in its quantum state at cryogenic temperatures. This produced atomic-scale, time-lapsed images of the sample.

The researchers say this work paves the way for further development of devices such as quantum microscopes, which have already proved to be more sensitive than traditional technologies. The new technique could also push advancement of things like energy systems, electronics, and quantum computers.

About the Author

Justine Murphy | Senior Editor

Justine Murphy is a multiple award-winning writer and editor with more 20 years of experience in newspaper publishing as well as public relations, marketing, and communications. For nearly 10 years, she has covered all facets of the optics and photonics industry as an editor, writer, web news anchor, and podcast host for an internationally reaching magazine publishing company. Her work has earned accolades from the New England Press Association as well as the SIIA/Jesse H. Neal Awards. She received a B.A. from the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts.