Researchers at the University of Rochester have created the highest resolution optical image ever, revealing structures as small as carbon nanotubes just a few billionths of an inch across. The new method should open the door to previously inaccessible chemical and structural information in samples as small as the proteins embedded in a cells membrane. The research appears in todays issue of Physical Review Letters.
"This is the highest resolution optical spectroscopic measurement ever made," says Lukas Novotny, professor of optics. "There are other methods that can see smaller structures, but none use light, which is rich in information. With this technique we have a detailed spectrum for every point on a surface."
Since light is so rife with information (everything we know about the deep universe comes from teasing information from a tiny amount of light), Novotny and his colleague, visiting professor Achim Hartschuh, can determine what a piece of material is made of as well as its structure. Is the string of carbon rolled into a tube or just a string of atoms? Is a protein made of expected molecules and properly folded to be an effective medicine? And what could be the most rewarding result of the research-detecting properties of such small structures that were unknown before. Novotny and his team are also eager to learn if certain structures exhibit unknown characteristics, such as when carbon nanotubes, for instance, cross or interconnect.
Jonathan Sherwood | University of Rochester
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