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THz Lens - a New Tool for Biology

Jun. 25, 2022

A new terahertz lens made of plastic and metal has 10 times the resolution of any current metamaterial lens, making it a powerful tool for biological imaging, its creators say.

It operates in the terahertz spectral region, where very few other optical tools are available, and where all of them have limitations, especially in terms of resolution.

THz Lens - a New Tool for Biology
If we think of this in comparison to an x-ray, which allows us to see inside objects at a high resolution but with associated danger from radiation, by contrast our metamaterial lens allows us not only to see through some opaque materials, but also to gather information on their chemical composition and even information on interaction between certain molecules, without the danger of x-rays.

The lens is perfectly suited to analyzing the delivery of drugs to cells, which is crucial to medical research.

It could allow earlier skin cancer diagnosis because smaller melanomas can be recognized. For breast cancer, it can also be used to more accurately check that all traces of a tumor have been cut out during surgery.

The main goal was not making a better form of an already existing lens, but making a lens that uses lightwaves in a way not previously possible; the lens is 1000 times smaller than early experimental models.

The major challenge is making these materials on a scale that is useful. This is one of the first times a metamaterial with a real-world application, quickly able to be realized, has been feasible. Within the next two to three years, new terahertz microscopes that are ten times more powerful than current ones will be possible using our metamaterial.

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