Professor Richard Blaikie from the University of Canterbury has been awarded a Marsden grant to develop new methods for looking at, and creating, the very small.
Visible light is used in many fields of science to look at small objects. Many types of microscope, for example, use visible light. However, there is a limit to how small an object can be and still be seen with visible light – the object must be larger than the light’s wavelength. This is a problem in fields like nanotechnology, where it is necessary to observe objects and create images that are usually much smaller than the wavelengths of visible light.
Sometimes, this problem can be overcome by using UV light or x-rays, which have shorter wavelengths, or even electron or ion beams, but this can be difficult as these methods can damage the object being examined.
Recently, Professor Blaikie and his team have developed techniques to use visible light to see objects smaller than its wavelength. These methods make use of an object’s shadow, which can contain extra detail not seen in the image itself. However, these methods are limited because the object and the light source have to be in very close contact, which means that manipulation is technically difficult.
Professor Blaikie’s group aims to combine its techniques with a new method of remote imaging first proposed by their collaborators at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US. The aim is to develop versatile ‘super lenses’ that will allow the nanoworld to be explored like never before.
Total Funding: $830,000.00 over 3 years