22-Nov-2019 - American Chemical Society (ACS)

4D imaging with liquid crystal microlenses

Most images captured by a camera lens are flat and two dimensional. Increasingly, 3D imaging technologies are providing the crucial context of depth for scientific and medical applications. 4D imaging, which adds information on light polarization, could open up even more possibilities, but usually the equipment is bulky, expensive and complicated. Now, researchers reporting in ACS Nano have developed self-assembling liquid crystal microlenses that can reveal 4D information in one snapshot.

Polarized light contains waves that undulate in a single plane, whereas unpolarized light, such as that from the sun, contains waves that move in every direction. Light can become polarized by reflecting off objects, and detecting this type of light could reveal hidden information. For example, cancer cells can reflect polarized light differently than healthy tissues. Wei Hu, Yan-Qing Lu and colleagues wanted to develop a portable, inexpensive and easy-to-use microlens to simultaneously acquire 3D space and polarization information, thereby producing 4D images.

To make their microlenses, the researchers used liquid crystals, materials found in most electronic displays. With a self-assembly process, they patterned arrays of liquid crystal microlenses into concentric circles. The researchers used a polarized optical microscope to image objects, such as a cross or the letter "E," under different directions of linearly polarized light. Microlenses in the array imaged the object differently, depending on their distance from the object (depth) and the direction of polarized light, producing 4D information. Although the resolution needs to be improved, the technique could someday be used in applications such as medical imaging, communications, displays, information encryption and remote sensing, the researchers say.

Facts, background information, dossiers
  • microlenses
More about American Chemical Society
  • News

    Digitizing chemistry with a smart stir bar

    Miniaturized computer systems and wireless technology are offering scientists new ways to keep tabs on reactions without the need for larger, cumbersome equipment. In a proof-of-concept study in ACS Sensors, researchers describe an inexpensive new device that functions like a conventional m ... more

    Levitating droplets allows to perform 'touchless' chemical reactions

    Levitation has long been a staple of magic tricks and movies. But in the lab, it's no trick. Scientists can levitate droplets of liquid, though mixing them and observing the reactions has been challenging. The pay-off, however, could be big as it would allow researchers to conduct contact-f ... more

    Superworms digest plastic, with help from their bacterial sidekicks

    Resembling giant mealworms, superworms (Zophobas atratus) are beetle larvae that are often sold in pet stores as feed for reptiles, fish and birds. In addition to their relatively large size (about 2 inches long), these worms have another superpower: They can degrade polystyrene plastic. No ... more

  • Videos

    What Makes Rubber Rubbery?

    Reactions is looking at sports science today. Sports balls owe their reliability to an unusual polymer. Learn about the chemistry of rubber the all-star’s best friend! more

    Dragon's Blood Could Save Your Life

    This week Reactions is looking at chemistry in bizarre places that could save your life. The science within the blood of the Komodo dragon or in a horseshoe crab can help with antibiotic resistance. But it doesn't end there, so we're taking a closer look at other wild places in nature that ... more

    Why is Olive Oil Awesome?

    Whether you sop it up with bread or use it to boost your cooking, olive oil is awesome. But a lot of chemistry goes on in that bottle that can make or break a product. Take the “extra virgin” standard: Chemistry tells us that a higher free-fatty-acid content leads to a lower grade, less tas ... more

More about Nanjing University
  • News

    New 3D chirality discovered and synthetically assembled

    The origin of lives of human beings, animals and plants on earth is attributed to chirality because it is necessitated for the formation of biomolecules, such as nucleic acids, proteins, carbohydrates, etc. The studies on chirality have been becoming increasingly active and extensive due to ... more

    All in one against CO2

    A "self-heating" boron catalyst that makes particularly efficient use of sunlight to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) serves as a light harvester, photothermal converter, hydrogen generator, and catalyst in one. Researchers introduce a photothermocatalytic reaction that requires no additives bey ... more

    The "great smoky dragon" of Quantum Physics

    Physicists around Anton Zeilinger have, for the first time, evaluated the almost 100-year long history of quantum delayed-choice experiments – from the theoretical beginnings with Albert Einstein to the latest research works in the present. Since the 17th century, science was intrigued by t ... more