A window of skin

New Scientist sees through me like glass. In fact, my skin could be better than glass:

In 2007, Allard Mosk and colleagues at Twente University in Enschede, the Netherlands, demonstrated that materials not normally transparent to optical wavelengths can be used to sharply focus what little light gets through. By correlating input and output light, the researchers calculated a “transmission matrix” that defines how light is scattered by disordered particles in such a material. They used this matrix to design the shape of the incoming light waves so that they scattered off the particles and came to a focus on the other side.

In 2010, the researchers showed that such a lens could focus light into a spot one-tenth the size of that produced by an ideal transparent lens of the same size, making the focus 10 times as sharp.

Now Wonshik Choi of Korea University in Seoul and colleagues have found a way to take pictures that are a thousand times as wide – up to several millimetres, though the resolution is lower than with Mosk’s method.

They used a 450-micrometre-thick slice of fresh rat skin as a lens.

“I know of no other compact optical system that combines such high resolution with a field of view that large,” says Mosk. He hopes to see a hybrid system that combines his resolution with Choi’s speed and field of view.

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