CPE demonstrates super-resolution imaging nanoscope and nano-marking device


Business Development Manager for the Centre for Photonics Expertise

The CPE Bangor University team, led by Dr James Wang, have demonstrated an imaging technique that allows a normal lab microscope to resolve 100nm features. Furthermore they have extended this work to another super-resolution application to achieve a nano-laser marking device, proving to be an interesting solution for the counterfeit protection industry or in the field of nanocircuits.

(How is all this relevant to CPE and for Welsh Businesses? Scroll down to the end of the article)

In an Optics Letters paper, published earlier this year, Yan and coworkers achieved miniscule laser engraved patterns with features as small as 350nm, well below the 800nm laser wavelength. The heart of this low-cost nano-laser marking device is a new superlens design called PCM (Plano-convex microsphere lens). This consists of a standard plano-convex lens and glass microsphere with a 50 micron diameter that is encapsulated to the lens. This simple design enables large area complex designs to be made with improved reliability and repeatability compared with other microsphere-based laser fabrication techniques.

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The above figure shows arbitrary patterns on different sample surfaces. On a silicon wafer: (a) Bangor University website QR code, (b) Welsh dragon. (c) Guilloche pattern on nickel substrate, (d) letters on a glass substrate, (e) enlarged image of highlighted area in (d).

Chosen as the Editor’s pick in Applied Optics, a further publication by Yan and coworkers explains how they use the PCM superlens to enhance the resolution of a microscope to be able to make out 100nm features on an integrated circuit chip and blue ray disc – all in real time. Furthermore, by stitching together multiple scanned images, the group were able to significantly increase the field of view.

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The above figure shows scanning super-resolution imaging and image stitching. (a) Single frame image of IC chip sample. (b) Stitched image of 10×10 frames. (c) Single frame image of the Blu-ray disc. (d) Stitched image of 20×2 frames. (e) Single frame image of complex structure of the IC chip. (f ) Stitched image of 13×10 frames.

How is all this relevant to CPE and for Welsh Businesses?

CPE offers access to unique, state of the art equipment and facilities to Welsh businesses at no cost. Each of our four University partners have their own focus and area of expertise. Our team at Bangor University are experts in the field of super-resolution imaging as well laser processing – e.g. laser cutting, welding, engraving, texturing. Their labs are home to a range of various lasers allowing them to carefully tailor the laser processing parameters to any material.

Working in collaboration with Diamond Centre Wales, a bespoke diamond jeweller located in South Wales, the team have recently achieved laser engraving of diamonds with a unique code that is invisible to the naked eye. In the next stage of the project, they will be integrating the unique PCM superlens to try to achieve even smaller identification codes.

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Bangor University’s super-resolution techniques, whether it’s for imaging or laser marking, can help drive and support innovative engineering processes for Welsh businesses, like Diamond Centre Wales. Collaborations like these also foster a working relationship between academia and industry that can lead to further opportunities, such as applying for grant funding, enabling business growth and development.

For more information visit our CPE website.

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