HMC Physics Colloquium

Tuesdays at 16:30 in Shanahan Center for Teaching and Learning, Room B460

Alex Small

Cal Poly Pomona

Faster, Smaller, Smarter: Using Light to See Things Smaller than the Wavelength of Light!

Oct. 28, 2008

Standard microscopes cannot resolve features smaller than the wavelength of light, due to diffraction of light by the microscope aperture. This same phenomenon also limits the features that can be formed in conventional photolithography. In recent years, several techniques have been proposed for beating the diffraction limit in fluorescence microscopy, enabling the detection of cellular features down to 30 nm scales. I will describe two of these techniques and calculations that I’ve been performing for extending their capabilities. I propose that one fluorescence imaging (Stimulated Emission Depletion) technique can be "inverted" to perform optical nanolithography with a conventional microscope, and I will show preliminary simulations of subwavelength nanolithography. I will also discuss the limits on image acquisition rates in a related technique (Stochastic Reconstruction Microscopy), and the dependence of the image acquisition rate on detection errors and image analysis algorithms. Our most surprising finding is that at a given acquisition speed the resolution can be limited by the capabilities of your image analysis algorithm, rather than the capabilities of your instrument.