Pushing the limits of lensless imaging.
(September 22, 2015) At the Frontiers in Optics conference researchers will describe a custom-built ultrafast laser that could help image everything from semiconductor chips to cells in real time.
Using ultrafast beams of extreme ultraviolet light streaming at a 100,000 times a second, researchers from the Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Germany, have pushed the boundaries of a well-established imaging technique. Not only did they make the highest resolution images ever achieved with this method at a given wavelength, they also created images fast enough to be used in real time. Their new approach could be used to study everything from semiconductor chips to cancer cells.
The team will present their work at the Frontiers in Optics, The Optical Society’s annual meeting and conference in San Jose, California, USA, on 22 October 2015.
The researchers’ wanted to improve on a lensless imaging technique called coherent diffraction imaging, which has been around since the 1980s. To take a picture with this method, scientists fire an X-ray or extreme ultraviolet laser at a target. The light scatters off, and some of those photons interfere with one another and find their way onto a detector, creating a diffraction pattern. By analyzing that pattern, a computer then reconstructs the path those photons must have taken, which generates an image of the target material — all without the lens that's required in conventional microscopy.
"The computer does the imaging part — forget about the lens," explained Michael Zürch, Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Germany and lead researcher. "The computer emulates the lens."