Tunable vapor-condensed nanolenses published in ACS Nano (2014)

E. McLeod , C. Nguyen , P. Huang , W. Luo , M. Veli and A. Ozcan (2014)

Nanostructured optical components, such as nanolenses, direct light at subwavelength scales to enable, among others, high-resolution lithography, miniaturization of photonic circuits, and nanoscopic imaging of biostructures. A major challenge in fabricating nanolenses is the appropriate positioning of the lens with respect to the sample while simultaneously ensuring it adopts the optimal size and shape for the intended use. One application of particular interest is the enhancement of contrast and signal-to-noise ratio in the imaging of nanoscale objects, especially over wide fields-of-view (FOVs), which typically come with limited resolution and sensitivity for imaging nano-objects. Here we present a self-assembly method for fabricating time- and temperature-tunable nanolenses based on the condensation of a polymeric liquid around a nanoparticle, which we apply to the high-throughput on-chip detection of spheroids smaller than 40 nm, rod-shaped particles with diameter smaller than 20 nm, and biofunctionalized nanoparticles, all across an ultralarge FOV of >20 mm2. Previous nanoparticle imaging efforts across similar FOVs have detected spheroids no smaller than 100 nm, and therefore our results demonstrate the detection of particles >15-fold smaller in volume, which in free space have >240 times weaker Rayleigh scattering compared to the particle sizes detected in earlier wide-field imaging work. This entire platform, with its tunable nanolens condensation and wide-field imaging functions, is also miniaturized into a cost-effective and portable device, which might be especially important for field use, mobile sensing, and diagnostics applications, including, for example, the measurement of viral load in bodily fluids.