Explore our microsphere tech

We incorporate microspheres into high precision optics for industrial and academic applications. The microspheres act like optical amplifiers, allowing us to manipulate light at the nanoscale.

SMAL

Super REsolution Microsphere Amplifying Lens

The Problem

The resolution of an optical microscope is limited to 250 nm by the diffraction limit of light.

Our Solution

We incorporate a microsphere into an objective lens, creating a spherical front lens. Imaging through this "meta-lens" increases the resolution and magnification of a standard 100x objective by up to 4x, resolving features down to 50 nm in size.

How our lens works

We use a microsphere objective lens to surpass the optical diffraction limit. The microsphere, attached to the end of our custom objective lens, sits between the objective lens and the sample, creating a spherical front lens. The microsphere collects the non-propagating evanescent waves which are normally invisible and projects them into the far field (see below). This allows our super-resolution microsphere objective lens to resolve features well beyond the optical diffraction limit, in full colour, and in real time using nothing but optics and white-light.

our objective has a
microsphere front lens

*microsphere not to scale

our published papers

A Collection Of Our Published Works on Microsphere Imaging

Nature Communications

Optical Virtual Imaging at 50 nm Lateral Resolution With a White-light Nanoscope

Abstract

"The imaging resolution of a conventional optical microscope is limited by diffraction to∼200 nm in the visible spectrum. Efforts to overcome such limits have stimulated the development of optical nanoscopes using metamaterial superlenses, nanoscale solid immersion lenses and molecular fluorescence microscopy. These techniques either require an illuminating laser beam to resolve to 70 nm in the visible spectrum or have limited imaging resolution above 100 nm for a white-light source. Here we report a new 50-nm-resolution nanoscope that uses optically transparent microspheres (for example, SiO2, with 2 μm

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Light Science & Applications

Label-free Super-resolution Imaging of Adenoviruses by Submerged Microsphere Optical Nanoscopy

Abstract

"Because of the small sizes of most viruses (typically 5–150nm), standard optical microscopes, which have an optical diffraction limit of 200nm, are not generally suitable for their direct observation. Electron microscopes usually require specimens to be placed under vacuum conditions, thus making them unsuitable for imaging live biological specimens in liquid environments. Indirect optical imaging of viruses has been made possible by the use of fluorescence optical microscopy that relies on the stimulated emission of light from the fluorescing specimens when they are excited with light of a specific wavelength, a process known as labeling or self-fluorescent emissions from certain organic materials. In this paper, we describe direct white-light optical imaging of 75-nm adenoviruses by submerged microsphere optical nanoscopy (SMON) without the use of fluorescent labeling or staining. The mechanism involved in the imaging is presented. Theoretical calculations of the imaging planes and the magnification factors have been verified by experimental results, with good agreement between theory and experiment."

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Optical Society Of America

Optical Scanning Nanoscope with Microsphere Attached Objective Lens for Super Resolution 3D Virtual Imaging

Abstract

"We have demonstrated an objective lens attachment comprising a single microsphere lens for achieving super resolution virtual imaging. We have resolved large areas with resolutions below the diffraction limit through contactless sample scanning."

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Optical Society Of America

Optical Tweezers Microsphere-lens Super-Resolution Imaging System

Abstract

"We have demonstrated a novel, non-contacting super-resolution imaging setup using optical tweezers designed in-house. We resolve large area of samples using laser-trapped polystyrene microsphere scanning with resolution below the diffraction limit."

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Journal Of Physics: Conference Series

Imaging with the Super-resolution Microsphere Amplifying Lens (SMAL) Nanoscope

Abstract

"The basic principle of the SMAL (Super-resolution Microsphere Amplifying Lens) imaging technology that we invented has its roots in the SMON (Submerged Microsphere Optical Nanoscope) pioneering work. SMAL is a novel objective lens whose front lens assembly contains a microsphere and is replaceable. We built a nanoscope prototype with nano XYZ scanning capability, which integrates a SMAL objective lens, allowing us to achieve super resolution imaging (70 nm – 90 nm). We have resolved large area scans (200 µm x 200 µm) by contactless sample scanning."

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See The NANOPSIS M Powered By SMAL

MLA

Microsphere lens array

The Problem

Current patterning techniques that use near-field optics to generate surface features below 100 nm all share two big disadvantages: low throughput and the need for sophisticated distance-control equipment.

Our Solution

To overcome these problems we have developed an innovative, highly effective, technique for nanopatterning across large surface areas. This is a fully automated, integrated laser scanning surface patterning system based on the multiple focusing effect of a microsphere lens array (MLA).

How it works

The MLA converts the single incident laser beam into multiple focused beam spots (down to 30nm resolution), each spot generates a feature on the substrate surface simultaneously. The laser scanning contributes to the high density and flexible shapes of the patters/features generated.

laser beam
Substrate to be patterned