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Sharper than expected

11:15am, December 5, 2007

A new technique beats the resolution limits of ordinary microscopes in a way that seems to defy conventional optical theory, its discoverers say.

Peter Stark of Harvard Medical School in Boston and his collaborators exposed a photosensitive film to light coming from microscopic holes in a thin silver plate. Ordinarily, those images would record no details smaller than half the wavelength of light, a fact that limits the resolution of optical microscopes to about 200 nanometers. Instead, the researchers' 60-nm-wide holes were in perfect focus.

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