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Optical

Using visible light magnified through a compound series of lenses to image small objects, standard optical microscopes have been with us for many centuries. Whilst continually being improved, the result of these many advances of optics and image-capturing techniques means that many high-end optical microscopes have now reached the limit of magnification possible as they push the resolution properties of light itself. In an attempt to resolve this issue, scientists at the University of Buffalo (UB) have created a prototype visible light "hyperlens" that may help image objects once only clearly viewable through electron microscopes.

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A team of researchers from the University of Texas El Paso (UTEP) and the University of Central Florida (UCF) has created a new device that allows for the steering of light around sharper corners than ever before. The device is tiny, constructed from an inexpensive material, and could one day become an integral part of computer hardware. Read More
The vast range of Wi-Fi-enabled devices available today means that anyone could have several personal electronic devices all trying to connect to a network simultaneously. Multiply this by many hundreds of people in a busy public place with Wi-Fi connectivity and this often means that available bandwidth is greatly reduced. To help address this problem, researchers at Oregon State University claim to have invented a new system called WiFO that incorporates infrared LEDs to boost the available Wi-Fi bandwidth by as much as ten times. Read More
April 24 will mark a significant milestone in the life of one of mankind's greatest scientific instruments – the 25-year anniversary of the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope. This bus-sized piece of scientific equipment has become a household name, thanks to the incredible scientific insights and iconic images it has returned over the course of a quarter-century in low-Earth orbit. Join us as we celebrate the history and achievements of NASA's flagship space telescope. Read More
Researchers at the University of Southampton and the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore have found that fiber optics can be used to build low-power, high-bandwidth artificial neurons that mimic their biological counterparts. Used inside a properly designed chip, this technology could lead to computers that think and learn like a human. Read More
A thin and flexible chameleon-like material developed by engineers at the University of California, Berkeley changes color when stretched or bent even tiny amounts. With potential applications in camouflage, structural fatigue sensors, display technologies, and more, the material's color changes reliably as it gets flexed thanks to rows of ridges that are precisely etched onto a silicon film one thousand times thinner than a human hair. Read More
Using unidirectional cubic nanoantennas to direct the output from nanoemitters, researchers at Monash University in Australia have described a method to accurately focus light at the nanoscale. The practical upshot of which is substantial progress towards guided, ultra-narrow beams needed for the new world of nanoelectromechanical systems (NEMS) and the eventual production of entire lab-on-a-chip devices. Read More
Ultra-thin flat lenses suitable for photography are one step closer after a team of researchers at Harvard University made a major leap forward with its prototype wafer-thin flat lens. The new lens builds on the original prototype, which we first heard about in 2012, by using an achromatic metasurface to focus different wavelengths of light at the same point. Read More
Researchers at the Eindhoven University of Technology and the University of Central Florida have developed a new fiber optics cable capable of transmitting the contents of over 5,000 DVDs in a single second – a speed six times greater than the previous record. The advance could help us reach petabit-per-second speeds over the next few years, which will be crucial for keeping up with growing bandwidth demands. Read More
In combat, seconds count and a moment’s hesitation or distraction can mean the difference between life and death. So it's no small problem that modern riflescopes often require soldiers to look away from their targets or take their hands off their rifles in order to change magnification. Sandia National Laboratories’ Rapid Adaptive Zoom for Assault Rifles (RAZAR) riflescope is capable of switching between high and low zoom magnifications at the touch of a button, allowing soldiers to concentrate on the battle rather than their scopes. Read More
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