The wave nature of light constraints how small structure one can see use optical microscopy. This constraint is commonly referred as the diffraction limit of an optical microscopy. The diffraction limit was first described in 1863 by Ernst Abbe. For over 100 years, the optical resolution achieved by the conventional optical microscopy was limited by the diffraction limit (typically 250 nm). The optical resolution constrain of optical microscopy limits developments in several fields, such as cell biology, diagnostic, etc. where structures smaller than 250 nm (such as virus, etc) could not be resolved.
Recent advancement in the field of fluorescence based optical microscopy broke the diffraction limit. Super-resolved optical microscopy, also referred as optical nanoscopy, was awarded by the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2014. Optical nanoscopy allowed scientific community with a tool to image nanoscale biological system.
Present optical nanoscopes use a complex microscope to illuminate the sample and a simple glass slide to hold the sample. Here we propose the inverse, a complex mass-producible waveguide-chip to hold and illuminate the sample using a standard microscope to acquire images. The photonics chips can be mass produced and significantly reduce the footprint and cost of the optical nanoscopy. The photonic-chip produced in this project, can be retrofitted to any standard microscopy and convert them into optical nanoscopy. With this project, we aim to provide cost-effective way of introducing optical nanoscopy to large user base, which is presently not possible due to high costs of present day optical nanoscopy (5-10 m NOK).