Hyperbolic nanomaterials have recently attracted interest due to the alternative lensing mechanism that their unique crystal structure can accommodate. This lensing technique uses a subatomic particle called a phonon-polariton to capture evanescent light rays before they decay1. Using polaritons allows this lensing mechanism to retain resolution that is normally lost in traditional lenses, producing a high resolution lens known as a super-lens2.
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For centuries, scientists have been studying methods to overcome the diffraction limit of light. Currently, most optical instruments use traditional, photon-based lenses that magnify objects by refracting light. These lenses are diffraction limited--that is, their maximum magnification is restricted to half a wavelength of light. It is anticipated that the introduction of non-diffraction limited optics to molecular biology can have the same revolutionary effect that optical microscopy had on the field.
Scientists might be one step closer to making Harry Potter a reality. A recent study published in Science claims that researchers at UC Berkeley have designed “an ultrathin invisibility skin cloak for visible light.”1 In other words, we might have that Harry Potter-style invisibility cloak of our dreams.