Researchers have created a novel way for capturing detailed images of things too small to observe with regular microscopes by employing donut laser, i.e., doughnut-shaped light beams. It could aid scientists in better understanding the inner workings of nanoelectronics, such as small semiconductors in computer chips. The study is the most recent advancement in ptychography, a powerful technique for examining very minute objects. Ptychography equipment, unlike ordinary microscopes, does not directly observe small things but instead shoots lasers at a target and measures how the light scatters away.
The new approach has worked well so far, with one important exception: it failed for highly periodic samples or objects with a recurring pattern. It includes nanoelectronics composed of atoms such as silicon or carbon connected in regular patterns such as a small grid or mesh. In the latest study, researchers used donut lasers of intense ultraviolet light instead of typical lasers in their microscopes.
The doughnut beams can capture precise images of tiny and delicate structures ranging in size from 10 to 100 nanometers or many times less than a millionth of an inch. The researchers hope to zoom in on even tiny structures in the future. The donut laser method will also not damage microscopic devices, as some existing imaging equipment, such as electron microscopes, can.
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