The resolution of an optical system (like a telescope or a camera) is limited by the so-called Rayleigh criterion. An international team, led by Complutense University of Madrid, has broken this limit, showing that it is not a fundamental curse. This opens the door to considerable improvement in resolution and could force the revision of Optics textbooks. This research is the culmination of a thrilling race between four groups of scientists around the world.
An ideal optical system would resolve a point perfectly as a point. However, due to the wave nature of light, diffraction occurs, caused by the limiting edges of the system's apertures. The result is that the image of a point is a blur. This limits the resolution of any imaging system, including microscopes, telescopes, and cameras. The quantitative formulation of this phenomenon is the time-honored Rayleigh's limit.
Rayleigh's curse limits the minimum distance that can be distinguished with visible light: on the order of 0.1 micrometer (a bacterium, for example, has a size of 2 micrometers), "which is a great limitation to our ability to see finer details", says Luis Sánchez Soto, Professor at the Faculty of Physics at Complutense University of Madrid (UCM).
In cooperation with scientists from Palacký University in Olomouc (Czech Republic), the physicist has managed to break this limit, reaching resolutions up to 17 times lower than those purported by Lord Rayleigh.
"Textbook Optics should be reconsidered and Rayleigh's limit shall be placed in a broader context", says Sánchez Soto, who is also a researcher at the Max-Planck Institute for the Science of Light in Erlangen (Germany).
The research, published in Optica, is the culmination of a thrilling race between four teams of scientists around the world. Everyone wanted to prove the violation of this limit, but the group led by the Spanish was the first to achieve it.
Improvements in imaging systems
The experiment shows that Rayleigh's curse is not inherent, but a consequence of not having chosen a good detection strategy. "So far, all our telescopes or microscopes directly observed intensity. Here we propose a scheme that optimizes the information obtainable and can exceed the Rayleigh limit", says the physicist.
The applications of this scientific breakthrough are "indubitable". Some companies have already shown interest in the discovery.
Reference: Martin Paúr, Bohumil Stoklasa, Zdenek Hradil, Luis L. Sánchez-Soto y Jaroslav Rehacek. "Achieving the ultimate optical resolution", Optica 3 (10), 1144-1147, 2016. DOI: 10.1364/OPTICA.3.001144.
Luis Lorenzo Sánchez Soto | EurekAlert!
Innovative LED High Power Light Source for UV
22.06.2017 | Omicron - Laserage Laserprodukte GmbH
Spin liquids − back to the roots
22.06.2017 | Universität Augsburg
Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.
Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...
Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.
As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...
Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.
With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...
Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine
Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...
Germany counts high-precision manufacturing processes among its advantages as a location. It’s not just the aerospace and automotive industries that require almost waste-free, high-precision manufacturing to provide an efficient way of testing the shape and orientation tolerances of products. Since current inline measurement technology not yet provides the required accuracy, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is collaborating with four renowned industry partners in the INSPIRE project to develop inline sensors with a new accuracy class. Funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the project is scheduled to run until the end of 2019.
New Manufacturing Technologies for New Products
19.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
22.06.2017 | Life Sciences
22.06.2017 | Materials Sciences
22.06.2017 | Materials Sciences