2018 Vol. 7, No. 3

Ultra-broadband on-chip twisted light emitter for optical communications
Zhenwei Xie, Ting Lei, Fan Li, Haodong Qiu, Zecen Zhang, et al.
Published. 2018, 7(3) 18001 doi: 10.1038/lsa.2018.1
Microscopic inspection and tracking of single upconversion nanoparticles in living cells
Fan Wang, Shihui Wen, Hao He, Baoming Wang, Zhiguang Zhou, et al.
Published. 2018, 7(3) 18007 doi: 10.1038/lsa.2018.7
Original Articles
Multispectral light scattering endoscopic imaging of esophageal precancer
Le Qiu, Ram Chuttani, Douglas K Pleskow, Vladimir Turzhitsky, Umar Khan, et al.
Published. 2018, 7(3) 17174 doi: 10.1038/lsa.2017.174
Esophageal adenocarcinoma is the most rapidly growing cancer in America. Although the prognosis after diagnosis is unfavorable, the chance of a successful outcome increases tremendously if detected early while the lesion is still dysplastic. Unfortunately, the present standard-of-care, endoscopic surveillance, has major limitations, since dysplasia is invisible, often focal, and systematic biopsies typically sample less than one percent of the esophageal lining and therefore easily miss malignancies. To solve this problem we developed a multispectral light scattering endoscopic imaging system. It surveys the entire esophageal lining and accurately detects subcellular dysplastic changes. The system combines light scattering spectroscopy, which detects and identifies invisible dysplastic sites by analyzing light scattered from epithelial cells, with rapid scanning of the entire esophageal lining using a collimated broadband light beam delivered by an endoscopically compatible fiber optic probe. Here we report the results of the first comprehensive multispectral imaging study, conducted as part of routine endoscopic procedures performed on patients with suspected dysplasia. In a double-blind study that characterized the system's ability to serve as a screening tool, 55 out of 57 patients were diagnosed correctly. In addition, a smaller double-blind comparison of the multispectral data in 24 patients with subsequent pathology at locations where 411 biopsies were collected yielded an accuracy of 90% in detecting individual locations of dysplasia, demonstrating the capability of this method to serve as a guide for biopsy.
New design for highly durable infrared-reflective coatings
Chaoquan Hu, Jian Liu, Jianbo Wang, Zhiqing Gu, Chao Li, et al.
Published. 2018, 7(3) 17175 doi: 10.1038/lsa.2017.175
The fundamental challenge in designing durable infrared-reflective coatings is achieving the ideal combination of both high reflectivity and durability. Satisfying these competing demands is traditionally achieved by deposition of durable layers on highly reflective metals. We overturn the traditional logic of 'first reflectivity and then durability' and propose an alternative of 'first durability and then reflectivity': First, a transition-metal compound is selected as a durable base; then its reflectivity is improved by incorporating silver/gold to form an alloy or by overcoating a multilayer stack. Two validation experiments prove that the new strategy works extremely well: the coatings thus obtained have infrared reflectivities close to that of aluminum, and their hardness and acid and salt corrosion resistances are 27–50, 400–1 500 and 7 500–25 000 times that of aluminum. The traditional mirror coating (e.g., Al/SiO2 films) is more suitable for moderate environments, while our mirror coating that was obtained by the new strategy (e.g., an Ag-doped hafnium nitride film) is more suitable for harsh environments, such as ones with dust, windblown sand, moisture, acid rain or salt fog. This work opens up new opportunities for highly durable infrared-reflective coatings and rejuvenates the study of transition metal compounds in a completely new area of optics.
Ultraviolet laser photolysis of hydrocarbons for nondiamond carbon suppression in chemical vapor deposition of diamond films
Li-Sha Fan, Loic Constantin, Da-wei Li, Lei Liu, Kamran Keramatnejad, et al.
Published. 2018, 7(3) 17177 doi: 10.1038/lsa.2017.177
In this work, we demonstrate that ultraviolet (UV) laser photolysis of hydrocarbon species alters the flame chemistry such that it promotes the diamond growth rate and film quality. Optical emission spectroscopy and laser-induced fluorescence demonstrate that direct UV laser irradiation of a diamond-forming combustion flame produces a large amount of reactive species that play critical roles in diamond growth, thereby leading to enhanced diamond growth. The diamond growth rate is more than doubled, and diamond quality is improved by 4.2%. Investigation of the diamond nucleation process suggests that the diamond nucleation time is significantly shortened and nondiamond carbon accumulation is greatly suppressed with UV laser irradiation of the combustion flame in a laser-parallel-to-substrate geometry. A narrow amorphous carbon transition zone, averaging 4 nm in thickness, is identified at the film–substrate interface area using transmission electron microscopy, confirming the suppression effect of UV laser irradiation on nondiamond carbon formation. The discovery of the advantages of UV photochemistry in diamond growth is of great significance for vastly improving the synthesis of a broad range of technically important materials.
Bifunctional gap-plasmon metasurfaces for visible light: polarization-controlled unidirectional surface plasmon excitation and beam steering at normal incidence
Fei Ding, Rucha Deshpande, Sergey I Bozhevolnyi
Published. 2018, 7(3) 17178 doi: 10.1038/lsa.2017.178
Integration of multiple diversified functionalities into a single, planar and ultra-compact device has become an emerging research area with fascinating possibilities for realization of very dense integration and miniaturization in photonics that requires addressing formidable challenges, particularly for operation in the visible range. Here we design, fabricate and experimentally demonstrate bifunctional gap-plasmon metasurfaces for visible light, allowing for simultaneous polarization-controlled unidirectional surface plasmon polariton (SPP) excitation and beam steering at normal incidence. The designed bifunctional metasurfaces, consisting of anisotropic gap-plasmon resonator arrays, produce two different linear phase gradients along the same direction for respective linear polarizations of incident light, resulting in distinctly different functionalities realized by the same metasurface. The proof-of-concept fabricated metasurfaces exhibit efficient (> 25% on average) unidirectional (extinction ratio > 20 dB) SPP excitation within the wavelength range of 600–650 nm when illuminated with normally incident light polarized in the direction of the phase gradient. At the same time, broadband (580–700 nm) beam steering (30.6°–37.9°) is realized when normally incident light is polarized perpendicularly to the phase gradient direction. The bifunctional metasurfaces developed in this study can enable advanced research and applications related to other distinct functionalities for photonics integration.
Spectroscopic stimulated Raman scattering imaging of highly dynamic specimens through matrix completion
Haonan Lin, Chien-Sheng Liao, Pu Wang, Nan Kong, Ji-Xin Cheng
Published. 2018, 7(3) 17179 doi: 10.1038/lsa.2017.179
Spectroscopic stimulated Raman scattering (SRS) imaging generates chemical maps of intrinsic molecules, with no need for prior knowledge. Despite great advances in instrumentation, the acquisition speed for a spectroscopic SRS image stack is fundamentally bounded by the pixel integration time. In this work, we report three-dimensional sparsely sampled spectroscopic SRS imaging that measures ~20% of pixels throughout the stack. In conjunction with related work in low-rank matrix completion (e.g., the Netflix Prize), we develop a regularized non-negative matrix factorization algorithm to decompose the sub-sampled image stack into spectral signatures and concentration maps. This design enables an acquisition speed of 0.8 s per image stack, with 50 frames in the spectral domain and 40, 000 pixels in the spatial domain, which is faster than the conventional raster laser-scanning scheme by one order of magnitude. Such speed allows real-time metabolic imaging of living fungi suspended in a growth medium while effectively maintaining the spatial and spectral resolutions. This work is expected to promote broad application of matrix completion in spectroscopic laser-scanning imaging.
Ultrafast z-scanning for high-efficiency laser micro-machining
Ting-Hsuan Chen, Romain Fardel, Craig B Arnold
Published. 2018, 7(3) 17181 doi: 10.1038/lsa.2017.181
High-throughput laser micro-machining demands precise control of the laser beam position to achieve optimal efficiency, but existing methods can be both time-consuming and cost-prohibitive. In this paper, we demonstrate a new high-throughput micro-machining technique based on rapidly scanning the laser focal point along the optical axis using an acoustically driven variable focal length lens. Our results show that this scanning method enables higher machining rates over a range of defocus distances and that the effect becomes more significant as the laser energy is increased. In a specific example of silicon, we achieve a nearly threefold increase in the machining rate, while maintaining sharp side walls and a small spot size. This method has great potential for improving the micro-machining efficiency of conventional systems and also opens the door to applying laser machining to workpieces with uneven topography that have been traditionally difficult to process.
Optically sizing single atmospheric particulates with a 10-nm resolution using a strong evanescent field
Xiao-Chong Yu, Yanyan Zhi, Shui-Jing Tang, Bei-Bei Li, Qihuang Gong, et al.
Published. 2018, 7(3) 18003 doi: 10.1038/lsa.2018.3
Although an accurate evaluation of the distribution of ultrafine particulate matter in air is of utmost significance to public health, the usually used PM2.5 index fails to provide size distribution information. Here we demonstrate a low-profile and cavity-free size spectrometer for probing fine and ultrafine particulate matter by using the enhanced particle-perturbed scattering in strong optical evanescent fields of a nanofiber array. The unprecedented size resolution reaches 10 nm for detecting single 100-nm-diameter nanoparticles by employing uniform nanofibers and controlling the polarizations of the probe light. This size spectrometry was tested and used to retrieve the size distribution of particulate matter in the air of Beijing, yielding mass concentrations of nanoparticles, as a secondary exercise, consistent with the officially released data. This nanofiber-array probe shows potential for the full monitoring of air pollution and for studying early-stage haze evolution and can be further extended to explore nanoparticle interactions.
Localization optoacoustic tomography
X Luís Dean-Ben, Daniel Razansky
Published. 2018, 7(3) 18004 doi: 10.1038/lsa.2018.4
Localization-based imaging has revolutionized fluorescence optical microscopy and has also enabled unprecedented ultrasound images of microvascular structures in deep tissues. Herein, we introduce a new concept of localization optoacoustic tomography (LOT) that employs rapid sequential acquisition of three-dimensional optoacoustic images from flowing absorbing particles. We show that the new method enables breaking through the spatial resolution barrier of acoustic diffraction while further enhancing the visibility of structures under limited-view tomographic conditions. Given the intrinsic sensitivity of optoacoustics to multiple hemodynamic and oxygenation parameters, LOT may enable a new level of performance in studying functional and anatomical alterations of microcirculation.
Ultrahigh-resolution nonlinear optical imaging of the armchair orientation in 2D transition metal dichalcogenides
Sotiris Psilodimitrakopoulos, Leonidas Mouchliadis, Ioannis Paradisanos, Andreas Lemonis, George Kioseoglou, et al.
Published. 2018, 7(3) 18005 doi: 10.1038/lsa.2018.5
We used nonlinear laser scanning optical microscopy to study atomically thin transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDs) and revealed, with unprecedented resolution, the orientational distribution of armchair directions and their degree of organization in the two-dimensional (2D) crystal lattice. In particular, we carried out polarization-resolved second-harmonic generation (PSHG) imaging for monolayer WS2 and obtained, with high-precision, the orientation of the main crystallographic axis (armchair orientation) for each individual 120 × 120 nm2 pixel of the 2D crystal area. Such nanoscale resolution was realized by fitting the experimental PSHG images, obtained with sub-micron precision, to a new generalized theoretical model that accounts for the nonlinear optical properties of TMDs. This enabled us to distinguish between different crystallographic domains, locate boundaries and reveal fine structure. As a consequence, we can calculate the mean orientational average of armchair angle distributions in specific regions of interest and define the corresponding standard deviation as a figure-of-merit for the 2D crystal quality.
A real-time detection and positioning method for small and weak targets using a 1D morphology-based approach in 2D images
Min-Song Wei, Fei Xing, Zheng You
Published. 2018, 7(3) 18006 doi: 10.1038/lsa.2018.6
A small and weak target detection method is proposed in this work that outperforms all other methods in terms of real-time capability. It is the first time that two-dimensional (2D) images are processed using only one-dimensional1D structuring elements in a morphology-based approach, enabling the real-time hardware implementation of the whole image processing method. A parallel image readout and processing structure is introduced to achieve an ultra-low latency time on the order of nanoseconds, and a hyper-frame resolution in the time domain can be achieved by combining the row-by-row structure and the electrical rolling shutter technique. Experimental results suggest that the expected target can be successfully detected under various interferences with an accuracy of 0.1 pixels (1σ) under the worst sky night test condition and that a centroiding precision of better than 0.03 pixels (1σ) can be reached for static tests. The real-time detection method with high robustness and accuracy is attractive for application to all types of real-time small target detection systems, such as medical imaging, infrared surveillance, and target measurement and tracking, where an ultra-high processing speed is required.
Negative reflection and negative surface wave conversion from obliquely incident electromagnetic waves
Shuo Liu, Tie Jun Cui, Ahsan Noor, Zui Tao, Hao Chi Zhang, et al.
Published. 2018, 7(3) 18008 doi: 10.1038/lsa.2018.8
Complete control of spatially propagating waves (PWs) and surface waves (SWs) is an ultimate goal that scientists and engineers seek for, in which negative reflection of PW and negative surface wave are two exotic phenomena. Here, we experimentally demonstrate an anisotropic digital coding metasurface capable of controlling both PWs and SWs with a single coding pattern. On the basis of the digital description of coding metasurfaces, a simple coding method is proposed to allow dual functionalities (either PW or SW manipulations) under two orthogonal polarizations at arbitrarily oblique incidences, thus improving the adaptability of digital coding metasurfaces in more practical circumstances. With elaborately designed ellipse-shaped coding particles, we experimentally demonstrate various functions under oblique incidences, including the negative reflection of PW, negative SW, anomalous reflection and their arbitrary combinations, all having good agreements with theoretical and numerical predictions. We believe that the proposed method may enable the digital coding metasurfaces to have broad applications in radar detections, wireless communications and imaging.
Entanglement beating in free space through spin–orbit coupling
Eileen Otte, Carmelo Rosales-Guzmán, Bienvenu Ndagano, Cornelia Denz, Andrew Forbes
Published. 2018, 7(3) 18009 doi: 10.1038/lsa.2018.9
It is well known that the entanglement of a quantum state is invariant under local unitary transformations. This rule dictates, for example, that the entanglement of internal degrees of freedom of a photon remains invariant during free-space propagation. Here, we outline a scenario in which this paradigm does not hold. Using local Bell states engineered from classical vector vortex beams with non-separable degrees of freedom, the so-called classically entangled states, we demonstrate that the entanglement evolves during propagation, oscillating between maximally entangled (purely vector) and product states (purely scalar). We outline the spin–orbit interaction behind these novel propagation dynamics and confirm the results experimentally, demonstrating spin–orbit coupling in paraxial beams. This demonstration highlights a hitherto unnoticed property of classical entanglement and simultaneously offers a device for the on-demand delivery of vector states to targets, for example, for dynamic laser materials processing, switchable resolution within stimulated emission depletion (STED) systems, and a tractor beam for entanglement.