Nanotech invention quadruples microscope magnification

Credit: ITV Granada

Scientists in Manchester have developed a so-called 'super lens' which quadruples the power of conventional microscopes by combining lenses with tiny glass beads.

It'll enable objects, such as viruses to viewed using optical instruments.

That's around 10 times cheaper than using a standard electron microscope.

Credit: ITV Granada

The Nanopsis microscope has the potential to do the same job as highly expensive equipment usually only found in universities, large companies or specialist centres.

Its developers, the start-up company LIG Nanowise based at Manchester Science Park, say it could be a "game changer" in areas such as drug discovery, cancer research, and microelectronics.

We have invented a super lens technology which increases the magnification of a regular optical microscope by four times. This allows you to see structures which are 90 nanometres (billionths of a metre) where a regular optical microscope is limited to seeing 200 nanometre structures by limitations in physics.

"This is the most powerful objective lens in the world. What this means is that you can see structures like a virus (75 - 150 nanometres) which you can't detect with a standard optical microscope and any current objective lenses on the market."

– Alex Sheppard, Project Leader