Super-resolution Optical Imaging Using Microsphere Nanoscopy

  • Seoungjun Lee

Student thesis: Phd


Standard optical microscopes cannot resolve images below 200 nm within the visible wavelengths due to optical diffraction limit. This Thesis reports an investigation into super-resolution imaging beyond the optical diffraction limit by microsphere optical nano-scopy (MONS) and submerged microsphere optical nano-scopy (SMON). The effect of microsphere size, material and the liquid type as well as light illumination conditions and focal plane positions on imaging resolution and magnification have been studied for imaging both biological (viruses and cells) and non-biological (Blu-ray disk patterns and nano-pores of anodised aluminium oxide) samples. In particular, sub-surface imaging of nano-structures (data-recorded Blu-ray) that cannot even be seen by a scanning electron microscope (SEM) has been demonstrated using the SMON technique. Adenoviruses of 75 nm in size have been observed with white light optical microscopy for the first time. High refractive index microsphere materials such as BaTiO3 (refractive index n = 1.9) and TiO2-BaO-ZnO (refractive index n = 2.2) were investigated for the first time for the imaging. The super-resolution imaging of sub-diffraction-limited objects is strongly influenced by the relationship between the far-field propagating wave and the near-field evanescent waves. The diffraction limit free evanescent waves are the key to achieving super-resolution imaging. This work shows that the MONS and SMON techniques can generate super-resolution through converting evanescent waves into propagating wave. The optical interactions with the microspheres were simulated using special software (DSIMie) and finite different in time domain numerical analysis software (CST Microwave Studio). The optical field structures are observed in the near-field of a microsphere. The photonic nanojets waist and the distance between single dielectric microsphere and maximum intensity position were calculated. The theoretical modelling was calculated for comparisons with experimental measurements in order to develop and discover super-resolution potential.
Date of Award1 Aug 2014
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorLin Li (Supervisor) & Zengbo Wang (Supervisor)


  • Imaging
  • Microsphere
  • Diffraction limit
  • Photonic nanojet
  • Mie theory
  • Optical resonance
  • Microscopy
  • Super-resolution

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