A Princeton group led by Evgenii Narimanov will discuss a newly emerging optical design known as a "far-field hyperlens." The hyperlens aims to increase light's abilities to image and magnify submicroscopic objects such as the components of biological cells. The lens is built with metamaterials, composite objects usually made from nanometer-scale arrays of rods and ring-shaped structures.
It can project an image relatively far away (therefore making it "far-field"). The cylindrical shape of the hyperlens can collect components of the light waves that in a conventional lens would be lost. This helps the hyperlens capture details smaller than the wavelength of the illuminating light. In addition to such "subwavelength imaging," the hyperlens' cylindrical geometry enables it to magnify an object's image.
The Princeton group theoretically proposed the hyperlens (Jacob, Alekseyev, Narimanov, Optics Express, Vol. 14, Issue 18, pp. 8247-8256, September 2006), and six months later it was demonstrated experimentally (see, for example, Science, 315, 1686, 23 March 2007). Nader Engheta's lab at the University of Pennsylvania has also proposed a device, called a "metamaterial crystal lens," essentially equivalent to the hyperlens (Physical Review B 74, 075103, 2006).
According to Princeton researcher Zubin Jacob, the initial prospects for the hyperlens are very promising, for applications ranging from imaging biological objects to making nanometer-scale circuit patterns. (Paper QTuD3 at CLEO/QUELS)