A New Kind of Optical Microscope (Technology#: 090407-01)


In the imaging of biological samples, resolution is not the only issue.  Electron microscopes can image at nanometer resolution but fail to address many questions. There is a clear need for imaging of samples in a benign environment at atmospheric pressure, free from mechanical intrusion and ionizing radiation. We propose here an instrument to achieve this at a resolution that is beyond the diffraction limit of normal light microscopes.

This instrument will use light (directly or in fluorescence mode) as the imaging medium.  It will be possible to have the sample in air or in water. Thus allowing living organisms to be observed for extended periods, just as in a normal light microscope. The resolution will be below the diffraction limit and may be ten times better than present optical microscopes.


Currently, total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy, TIRF, is a lens-based method and, as such, can not form images at a resolution better than the AbbĂ© limit - about half the wavelength of the light used to form the image. This invention allows the formation of images in a related mode but at a much improved resolution.  The new instrument is related to TIRF in that it will image material in contact with, or close to, a surface. In the case of TIRF this is achieved by the illumination of the sample with an evanescent wave associated with total internal reflection.  In the proposed instrument, the localization of the region imaged to the material adjacent to the surface is a natural outcome of the imaging device.

* Increased resolution over current optical microscopes
* The sample can be in air or in water
* Living organisms can be observed for extended periods, just as in a normal light microscope

Status of Intellectual Property
 A U.S. provisional patent application has been filed.
Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Yatin Karpe
Associate Director
Lehigh University
Alwyn Eades
Sub-Wavelength Resolution
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