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The Lead

Slinky lookalike “hyperlens” helps us see tiny objects

May 22, 2015 10:27 am | by Cory Nealon, Univ. at Buffalo | News | Comments

It looks like a Slinky suspended in motion. Yet this photonics advancement, called a metamaterial hyperlens, doesn’t climb down stairs. Instead, it improves our ability to see tiny objects. The hyperlens may someday help detect some of the most lethal forms of cancer.

Gauging materials’ physical properties from video

May 21, 2015 10:42 am | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Last summer, MIT researchers published a paper describing an algorithm that can recover...

Liquid-crystal-based compound lenses work like insect eyes

May 18, 2015 10:37 am | by Evan Lerner, Univ. of Pennsylvania | Videos | Comments

The compound eyes found in insects and some sea creatures are marvels of evolution. There,...

Removing reflections

May 11, 2015 7:58 am | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | News | Comments

It’s hard to take a photo through a window without picking up reflections of the objects behind...

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New thin, flat lenses

May 11, 2015 7:35 am | by Adam Hadhazy, Caltech | News | Comments

Lenses appear in all sorts of everyday objects, from prescription eyeglasses to cell phone cameras. Typically, lenses rely on a curved shape to bend and focus light. But in the tight spaces inside consumer electronics and fiber-optic systems, these rounded lenses can take up a lot of room. Over the last few years, scientists have started crafting tiny flat lenses that are ideal for such close quarters.

Some see telescope as an opportunity for science education

May 8, 2015 2:09 am | by Jennifer Sinco Kelleher, Associated Press | News | Comments

Before going up to Mauna Kea's summit on Hawaii's Big Island, Heather Kaluna makes an offering to Poliahu, the snow goddess of the mountain. She holds it sacred, as do other Native Hawaiians. The mountain holds another important place in her life: Poised to be the first Native Hawaiian to get an astronomy doctorate from the Univ. of Hawaii, she uses the mountain to gaze at the stars.

Computer scientists speed up mine detection

May 5, 2015 8:22 am | by Ioana Patringenaru, Univ. of California, San Diego | News | Comments

Computer scientists at the Univ. of California, San Diego, have combined sophisticated computer vision algorithms and a brain-computer interface to find mines in sonar images of the ocean floor. The study shows that the new method speeds detection up considerably, when compared to existing methods, which mainly consist of visual inspection by a mine detection expert.

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Engineering students create real-time 3-D radar system

May 5, 2015 7:44 am | by Jade Boyd, Rice Univ. | Videos | Comments

Spencer Kent stands nervously in front of Team D.R.A.D.I.S.’ booth at Rice Univ.’s annual Engineering Design Showcase. Judging begins in about 10 min, and his teammate Galen Schmidt is frantically typing computer code into a laptop beside the team’s custom-made radar system.

The random Raman laser: A new light source for microcosmos

May 4, 2015 10:42 am | by The Optical Society | News | Comments

In modern microscope imaging techniques, lasers are used as light sources because they can deliver fast pulsed and extremely high-intensity radiation to a target, allowing for rapid image acquisition. However, traditional lasers come with a significant disadvantage in that they produce images with blurred speckle patterns: a visual artifact that arises because of a property of traditional lasers called "high spatial coherence."

Researchers probe chemistry, topography and mechanics with one instrument

May 4, 2015 7:39 am | by Dawn Levy, Oak Ridge National Laboratory | News | Comments

The probe of an atomic force microscope (AFM) scans a surface to reveal details at a resolution 1,000 times greater than that of an optical microscope. That makes AFM the premier tool for analyzing physical features, but it cannot tell scientists anything about chemistry. For that they turn to the mass spectrometer.

The trillion-frame-per-second camera

April 30, 2015 8:09 am | by Rebecca B. Andersen, The Optical Society | News | Comments

When a crystal lattice is excited by a laser pulse, waves of jostling atoms can travel through the material at close to one sixth the speed of light, or approximately 28,000 mps. Scientists now have a new tool to take movies of such superfast movement in a single shot. Researchers from Japan have developed a new high-speed camera that can record events at a rate of more than one-trillion-frames-per-second.

Robotically discovering Earth's nearest neighbors

April 29, 2015 11:34 am | by University of Hawaii at Manoa | News | Comments

A team of astronomers using ground-based telescopes in Hawaii, California, and Arizona recently discovered a planetary system orbiting a nearby star that is only 54 light-years away. All three planets orbit their star at a distance closer than Mercury orbits the sun, completing their orbits in just 5, 15, and 24 days.

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Better battery imaging paves way for renewable energy future

April 21, 2015 8:04 am | by Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison | News | Comments

In a move that could improve the energy storage of everything from portable electronics to electric microgrids, Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison and Brookhaven National Laboratory researchers have developed a novel x-ray imaging technique to visualize and study the electrochemical reactions in lithium-ion rechargeable batteries containing a new type of material, iron fluoride.

Solidifying Image Acquisition

April 16, 2015 2:53 pm | by Lindsay Hock, Editor | Articles | Comments

Image analysis is of growing importance in science, and trends are observed for different layers of image acquisition. Quantifiable and reproducible data is a prerequisite for scientific publications. And, today, it isn’t sufficient to just acquire aesthetically pleasing images with a microscope. To get powerful scientific results, scientists must get as much information as they can from an image.

A camera that powers itself

April 15, 2015 10:03 am | by Holy Evarts, Columbia Univ. School of Engineering and Applied Science | News | Comments

A Columbia Engineering research team has invented a prototype video camera that is the first to be fully self-powered: It can produce an image each second, indefinitely, of a well-lit indoor scene. They designed a pixel that can not only measure incident light but also convert the incident light into electric power.

Scientists help build next-generation dark energy probe

April 13, 2015 7:54 am | by Nicole Casal Moore, Univ. of Michigan | News | Comments

Univ. of Michigan scientists and students will build components of a giant camera that will map 30 million galaxies' worth of the universe in three dimensions. The camera is officially known as the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument, abbreviated DESI, and it's designed to help answer one of the most puzzling scientific questions of our time: Why is the expansion of the universe accelerating?

Optical method for producing high-res, 3-D images of nanoscale objects

April 8, 2015 8:07 am | by Bjorn Carey, Stanford Univ. | Videos | Comments

To design the next generation of optical devices, ranging from efficient solar panels to LEDs to optical transistors, engineers will need a 3-D image depicting how light interacts with these objects on the nanoscale. Unfortunately, the physics of light has thrown up a roadblock in traditional imaging techniques: The smaller the object, the lower the image's resolution in 3-D.

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How do you feel? Video of your face may tell all

April 7, 2015 7:42 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | Videos | Comments

Rice Univ. researchers are developing a highly accurate, touch-free system that uses a video camera to monitor patients’ vital signs just by looking at their faces. The technique isn’t new, but engineering researchers in Rice’s Scalable Health Initiative are making it work under conditions that have so far stumped earlier systems.

Camera chip provides superfine 3-D resolution

April 6, 2015 8:00 am | by Jessica Stoller-Conrad, Caltech | News | Comments

Imagine you need to have an almost exact copy of an object. Now imagine that you can just pull your smartphone out of your pocket, take a snapshot with its integrated 3-D imager, send it to your 3-D printer and, within minutes, you have reproduced a replica accurate to within microns of the original object. This feat may soon be possible because of a new, tiny high-resolution 3-D imager developed at Caltech.

Ultrasonic hammer sets off tiny explosions

April 6, 2015 7:42 am | by Liz Ahlberg, Physical Sciences Editor, Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign | News | Comments

Giving new meaning to the term “sonic boom,” Univ. of Illinois chemists have used sound to trigger microscopic explosions. Using an “ultrasonic hammer,” the researchers triggered tiny but intensely hot explosions in volatile materials, giving insight into how explosives work and how to control them.

Microsecond Raman imaging might probe cells, organs for disease

March 30, 2015 1:03 pm | by Emil Venere, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

A vibrational spectroscopic imaging technology that can take images of living cells could represent an advanced medical diagnostic tool for the early detection of cancer and other diseases. High-speed spectroscopic imaging makes it possible to observe the quickly changing metabolic processes inside living cells and to image large areas of tissue, making it possible to scan an entire organ.

Multi-scale Fractal-based Methods for Useful Characterizations of Surface Topographies

March 30, 2015 12:05 pm | by Christopher Brown, Surface Metrology Lab, Worcester Polytechnic Institute | Articles | Comments

Geometrically, fractals have forms, or features, that repeat at different sizes over ranges of scales. These features can repeat exactly, such as the triangles that repeat with scale on a Koch snowflake or Minkowski sausage. Or, these features might repeat statistically, as on ground or abraded surfaces, where these repeating features create self-similar patterns of scratches or over a range of scales.

High-tech method allows rapid imaging of functions in living brain

March 30, 2015 11:49 am | by Julie Flory, Washington Univ. of St. Louis | News | Comments

Researchers studying cancer and other invasive diseases rely on high-resolution imaging to see tumors and other activity deep within the body's tissues. Using a new high-speed, high-resolution imaging method, a team at Washington Univ. in St. Louis were able to see blood flow, blood oxygenation, oxygen metabolism and other functions inside a living mouse brain at faster rates than ever before.

Squid-inspired invisibility stickers to protect soldiers

March 23, 2015 8:21 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

Squid are the ultimate camouflage artists, blending almost flawlessly with their backgrounds so that unsuspecting prey can't detect them. Using a protein that's key to this process, scientists have designed "invisibility stickers" that could one day help soldiers disguise themselves, even when sought by enemies with tough-to-fool infrared cameras.

Minimal device maximizes macula imaging

March 18, 2015 7:49 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | Videos | Comments

A smart and simple method developed at Rice Univ. to image a patient’s eye could help monitor eye health and spot signs of macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy, especially in developing nations. The patient-operated, portable device invented at Rice is called mobileVision. It can be paired with a smartphone to give clinicians finely detailed images of the macula, without artificially dilating the pupil.

Real-time holographic displays one step closer to reality

March 16, 2015 12:11 pm | by Sarah Collins, Univ. of Cambridge | News | Comments

Real-time dynamic holographic displays, long the realm of science fiction, could be one step closer to reality, after researchers from the Univ. of Cambridge developed a new type of pixel element that enables far greater control over displays at the level of individual pixels.

Technology could cut costs of night vision, thermal imaging

March 4, 2015 4:06 pm | by LaKisha Ladson, UT Dallas | News | Comments

Engineers at The Univ. of Texas at Dallas have created semiconductor technology that could make night vision and thermal imaging affordable for everyday use. The engineers created an electronic device in affordable technology that detects electromagnetic waves to create images at nearly 10 THz, which is the highest frequency for electronic devices. The device could make night vision and heat-based imaging affordable.

Perfect colors, captured with ultra-thin lens

February 20, 2015 7:50 am | by Caroline Perry, Harvard Univ. | News | Comments

Most lenses are, by definition, curved. After all, they are named for their resemblance to lentils, and a glass lens made flat is just a window with no special powers. But a new type of lens created at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences turns conventional optics on its head.

Superior Resolution for the Biological World

February 13, 2015 12:47 pm | by Lindsay Hock, Editor | Articles | Comments

Traditional fluorescence microscopy has suffered from the resolution limits imposed by diffraction and the finite wavelength of light. Classical resolution is typically limited to about 200 nm in xy. Due to the nanoscale architecture of many biological structures, researchers developed super-resolution techniques, starting in the 1990s, to overcome this classical resolution limit in light microscopy.

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