Engineers create 3D microscope lens, see the tiny elephants in your ear

Sam Sheffer
S. Sheffer|03.23.11

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The ability to view tiny images in the third D has been made possible by Lei Li and Allen Yi of Ohio State University. The two have crafted a one-of-a-kind 3D lens that, unlike other three-dimensional microscopes that capture images by circling around the subject, sees teeny objects while stationary. Although the engineers crafted the lens on a precision cutting machine using a diamond blade themselves, they say it can be produced using traditional molding methods. At the size of a fingernail, the thermoplastic material, aka acrylic glass, was cut with 10 nanometer spacing (that's tiny) to ensure a flat plane. The top is surrounded by eight facets -- sort of like a gem stone, but not symmetric -- allowing the viewer to see 9 different angles at once. This should pave way for scientists to get better angles of microscopic objects, but they can always try using the 3DS and some DIY lens attachments, right?
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