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“Magic Wand” Reveals a Previously Invisible Colorful Nano-World

New color photographs using high-efficiency probes can superfocus white light to spots at 6 nanometers for nanoscale color imaging.

Scientists have developed new materials for very small next-generation electronics. Not only are they indistinguishable when crowded, but even the most powerful light microscopes do not reflect enough light to display details such as color. In an optical microscope, for example, carbon nanotubes are grayish. The inability to distinguish the details and differences of individual parts of nanomaterials makes it difficult for scientists to study their unique properties and find ways to optimize them for industrial applications.

With a new report Nature CommunicationsResearchers at the University of California, Riverside describe an innovative imaging technology that compresses lamp light into nanometer-sized spots. Just as students at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry are practicing the “Le Moss” spell, they hold their light at the ends of silver nanowires and use it to reveal previously invisible details such as color. To.

This advance will increase the resolution of color imaging to the unprecedented 6 nanometer level, allowing scientists to see nanomaterials in sufficient detail to make them more useful in electronics and other applications. ..

Focuses the “white” light from the tungsten lamp on the tip of the silver nanowires to faithfully check the light scattering and absorption of the sample. Credit: Maet. al, 2021

Ming Liu and Ruoxue Yan, associate professors at the University of California, Riverside’s Marlan and Rose Maryborns Institute of Technology, developed this unique tool using superfocusing technology developed by the team.The technique is used in Previous work Observe molecular binding vibrations with a spatial resolution of 1 nanometer without the need for a condensing lens.

In the new report, Liu and Yan modified the tool to measure signals over the visible wavelength range. It can be used to render object colors and represent object electronic band structures, as well as molecular vibrations. This tool narrows the light from a tungsten lamp to silver nanowires with near zero scattering or reflection. Light is carried by the oscillating waves of free electrons on the silver surface.

This visualization shows a fiber-in-fiber-out process for optical spectroscopic measurements. Credit: Liu Group / UCR

The condensed light leaves the tip of a silver nanowire with a radius of only 5 nanometers in a conical path, like a ray from a flashlight. As the tip passes over the object, its effect on the shape and color of the beam is detected and recorded.

“It’s like using your thumb to control the spray of water from the hose. I know how to get the desired spray pattern by repositioning my thumb. Similarly, in the experiment, I read the pattern of light. Get the details of the object blocking the 5nm size light nozzle. “

The light is then focused on the spectrometer, where it forms a small ring shape. By scanning the probe in one area and recording two spectra per pixel, researchers can formulate absorption and scatter images in color. Originally grayish carbon nanotubes received the first color photo, and individual carbon nanotubes now have the opportunity to show their unique color.

“Atomicly smooth, sharp-edged silver nanowires and their near-scattering photocoupling and focusing are important for imaging,” says Yan. “Otherwise, there will be a strong stray light in the background and the whole effort will be ruined.”

Researchers hope that new technologies can be an important tool to help the semiconductor industry create uniform nanomaterials with consistent properties for use in electronic devices. New full-color nanoimaging technology can also be used to improve understanding of catalysis, quantum optics, and nanoelectronics.

Reference: “6 nm super-resolution light transmission and scattering spectroscopic imaging of carbon nanotubes using a nanometer-scale white light source” by Xuezhi Ma, Qiushi Liu, Ning Yu, Da Xu, Sanggon Kim, Zebin Liu, Kaili Jiang, and Bryan M. Wong, Ruoxue Yan, Ming Liu, November 25, 2021 Nature Communications..

DOI: 10.1038 / s41467-021-27216-5

Liu, Yan and Ma were joined by Xuezhi Ma, who was involved in the project as part of his PhD research at UCR Riverside. Researchers also included UCR students Qiushi Liu, Ning Yu, Da Xu, and Sanggon Kim. Zebin Liu and Kaili Jiang of Tsinghua University, and Professor Bryan Wong of UCR.

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