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Optical

Ever since Antonie van Leeuwenhoek turned his simple microscope on a bit of pond water in the 17th century, optical microscopes have been a key tool for biologists. Unfortunately, they’re rather limited as to the smallness of what they can see – or at least, they were. This year's winners of the Nobel Laureates in Chemistry, Eric Betzig, Stefan W. Hell and William E. Moerner, changed all that. Their discovery of two methods to bypass the physical limits of optical microscopes led to the creation of the field of nanomicroscopy. Read More
Two scientists at the University of Rochester have taken invisibility cloaking back to basics. Their novel arrangement of four standard, off-the-shelf lenses keeps an object hidden (and the background undisturbed) as the viewer moves up to several degrees away from the optimal viewing angle. Read More
In an age where reading something from a screen on a phone or a computer is a normal part of our daily lives, the wearing of glasses or contact lenses often makes doing so a chore with eye-strain problems and the necessity to carry around spectacles or lenses wherever you go. In this vein, researchers at the University of California at Berkeley have created a prototype vision-correcting, printed pinhole matrix that they claim fits directly to a screen and negates the need for eyeglasses or remedial lenses and may one day offer improved visual acuity to those with eye problems much worse than simple farsightedness. Read More
Light might be the preferred option for transmitting data over long distances via cables, but when it comes to short range wireless, radio waves rule in the form of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Now Mexican company Sisoft, working with researchers from the Autonomous Technological Institute of Mexico (ITAM), has developed a wireless technology that transmits data in visible light emitted from LED lamps, while lighting the room at the same time. Read More

Night-vision security cameras could be getting a lot less costly, thanks to the discovery that their lenses can be made from silicon. Ordinarily, thermal infrared camera lenses are made from materials such as germanium and chalcogenide, which are much more expensive. Read More

Although all steel-bodied cars rust eventually, premature rusting may soon be less of a problem thanks to technology developed by father-and-son team Anis and Aunik Rahman. Their system non-destructively analyzes automobiles' paint jobs, making sure that the layers of paint have been applied properly. It could reportedly also find use diagnosing the early stages of skin cancer. Read More
Retinal scans have a lot going for them as a form of identification. You can’t forget your retinas, they're unique, they’re a lot harder to steal than passwords, and Captain Kirk uses them. The problem is, the technology needed to run a reliable retinal scan is often bulky, expensive, and hard to use. Scientists at the Dresden-based Fraunhofer Institute for Photonic Microsystems (IPMS) have shrunk down retinal scanning technology in the hopes of making retinal scans a more widespread identification technology. Read More
It's often a case of swings and roundabouts. If you save money by buying a house out of town, you spend more time and money commuting. If you really measure the momentum of an electron, you have no idea where the little guy is located. And now, according to a new analysis by a pair of University of Texas electrical engineers, the better an object is hidden by an invisibility cloak at a given wavelength of light, the easier it is to see at other wavelengths. Swings and roundabouts. Read More
A researcher at the University of Twente in the Netherlands has developed a new optical memory disc out of tungsten and silicon nitride that he says could store data safely for extremely long periods of time – up to a billion years. Read More
One example of biomimicry that keeps popping up on the pages of Gizmag is the use of insect eyes as a model for innovative new optical devices. It seems that the potential for development in this area is far from exhausted with the announcement of another bug-inspired lens breakthrough from Ohio State University. This experimental lens developed by associate professor of biomedical engineering and ophthalmology, Yi Zhao, combines the wide angle properties of insect vision with the depth-of-field capabilities of a human eye. Read More
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