Imaging at the nanoscale is considered to play a vital role in a plethora of contemporary applications in physics, medicine, biology, materials science and other fields. Limitations of existing techniques are, for example, their imaging speed, resolution or the lack of potential to look behind opaque objects with any shapes.
However, imaging such as this would indeed be useful, example, for examining spongy electrodes, thus enabling to increase charging speed and capacity of future generation batteries.
In a research article titled "3D Nano-scale Imaging by Plasmonic Brownian Microscopy" published on Dec 15th, 2017, in Nanophotonics, the team headed by Prof. Xiang Zhang from the University of California in Berkeley demonstrated a technique with stunning properties.
"We wanted to overcome limitations of current nano imaging techniques and are excited to have found a way to image complex 3D nanostructures even with intricate internal structures such as cavities," explains Prof. Zhang.
Nanoparticles are submerged in a fluid surrounding the object under study. By exploiting their unique properties when working together with light, each of the particles behaves as a light source, thus examining the object from all sides, even from behind overhangs and within any cavities. This new technique, with a resolution of 30 nm in all directions, provides true 3D imaging at the nanoscale.
Plasmonic Brownian Microscopy, besides being used in the technology sector, could also be used for mapping out the biological machinery within single cells, particularly those with complicated internal structures. This would help in further enhancing the understanding of the fundamental mechanisms of living organisms and could also lead to the development of new medical solutions.