Columbus OH (SPX) Mar 28, 2011
Engineers at Ohio State University have invented a lens that enables microscopic objects to be seen from nine different angles at once to create a 3D image.
Other 3D microscopes use multiple lenses or cameras that move around an object; the new lens is the first single, stationary lens to create microscopic 3D images by itself.
Allen Yi, associate professor of integrated systems engineering at Ohio State, and postdoctoral researcher Lei Li described the lens in a recent issue of the Journal of the Optical Society of America A.
Yi called the lens a proof of concept for manufacturers of microelectronics and medical devices, who currently use very complex machinery to view the tiny components that they assemble.
Though the engineers milled their prototype thermoplastic lens on a precision cutting machine, the same lens could be manufactured less expensively through traditional molding techniques, Yi said.
"Ultimately, we hope to help manufacturers reduce the number and sizes of equipment they need to miniaturize products," he added.
The prototype lens, which is about the size of a fingernail, looks at first glance like a gem cut for a ring, with a flat top surrounded by eight facets. But while gemstones are cut for symmetry, this lens is not symmetric. The sizes and angles of the facets vary in minute ways that are hard to see with the naked eye.
"No matter which direction you look at this lens, you see a different shape," Yi explained. Such a lens is called a "freeform lens," a type of freeform optics.
Freeform optics have been in use for more than a decade. But Lei Li was able to write a computer program to design a freeform lens capable of imaging microscopic objects.
Then Yi and Li used a commercially available milling tool with a diamond blade to cut the shape from a piece of the common thermoplastic material polymethyl methacrylate, a transparent plastic that is sometimes called acrylic glass. The machine shaved bits of plastic from the lens in increments of 10 nanometers, or 10 billionths of a meter - a distance about 5,000 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair.
The final lens resembled a rhinestone, with a faceted top and a wide, flat bottom. They installed the lens on a microscope with a camera looking down through the faceted side, and centered tiny objects beneath the flat side.
Each facet captured an image of the objects from a different angle, which can be combined on a computer into a 3D image.
The engineers successfully recorded 3D images of the tip of a ballpoint pen - which has a diameter of about 1 millimeter - and a mini drill bit with a diameter of 0.2 millimeters.
"Using our lens is basically like putting several microscopes into one microscope," said Li. "For us, the most attractive part of this project is we will be able to see the real shape of micro-samples instead of just a two-dimensional projection."
In the future, Yi would like to develop the technology for manufacturers. He pointed to the medical testing industry, which is working to shrink devices that analyze fluid samples. Cutting tiny reservoirs and channels in plastic requires a clear view, and the depths must be carved with precision.
Computer-controlled machines - rather than humans - do the carving, and Yi says that the new lens can be placed in front of equipment that is already in use. It can also simplify the design of future machine vision equipment, since multiple lenses or moving cameras would no longer be necessary.
Other devices could use the tiny lens, and he and Li have since produced a grid-shaped array of lenses made to fit an optical sensor. Another dome-shaped lens is actually made of more than 1,000 tiny lenses, similar in appearance to an insect's eye.
This research was sponsored by the National Science Foundation. Moore Nanotechnology Systems in Keene, NH, provided the ultraprecision milling machine.
Share This Article With Planet Earth
Ohio State University
Space Technology News - Applications and Research
3D techonology helps study ocean waves
Corvallis, Ore. (UPI) Jan 28, 2011
Stereo vision" will let researchers study waves pounding against the shore to better understand a violent, ever-changing environment, U.S. scientists say. Engineers at Oregon State University say the system, using two video cameras feeding images to an advanced computer system, will allow researchers to observe large areas of ocean waves to see what they are doing and why, a university ... read more
Seeing In Stereo: Engineers Invent Lens For 3-D Microscope|
Fukushima contamination 'well beyond' 30k zone: France
NY Times begins charging online readers
Radiation scare at Japan nuclear plant
Raytheon BBN Technologies To Protect Internet Comms For Military Abroad
Gilat Announces New Military Modem For Robust Tactical Satcom-On-The-Move
Advanced Emulation Accelerates Deployment Of Military Network Technologies
Tactical Communications Group Completes Deployment Of Ground Support Systems
Two Ariane 5 And One Soyuz Flights Are Now Being Prepared
ILS Protests Unfair Subsidies To Arianespace
SES And ILS Announce Launch Of SES-6 On ILS Proton In 2013
LockMary To Launch DigitalGlobe WorldView-3 Earth Imaging Satellite
GPS Mundi Releases Points Of Interest Files For Ten More Major Cities
LockMart GPS III Team Completes Key Flight Software Milestone
N. Korea rejects Seoul's plea to stop jamming signals
Rayonier's GIS Strengthens Asset Management Capability
Japan Airlines emerges from bankruptcy
Bombardier, COMAC team up to market, sell jetliners
China airlines to challenge EU carbon tax: report
Singapore Airlines to suspend half of Tokyo flights
Tiny 'On-Chip Detectors' Count Individual Photons
'Quantum' computers said a step closer
Pruned' Microchips Are Faster, Smaller, More Energy-Efficient
Silicon Spin Transistors Heat Up And Spins Last Longer
Secretary Salazar Charts Future For Landsat Satellite Program
Scanner eyes Earth's coastlines from space
Thirst For Knowledge: NASA Eyes World's Water
NASA Global Hawk Takes Earth's Temperature Over Pacific Ocean
Race to save oil slicked penguins on remote British island
EPA proposes 1st mercury emissions limits
Russian police search office of outspoken activist
China cleaning up 'jeans capital'
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2010 - SpaceDaily. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement|