Detecting nanometric displacements with optical ruler metrology

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Science  24 May 2019:
Vol. 364, Issue 6442, pp. 771-775
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaw7840

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Superoscillatory displacement metrology

The resolving power of light (or other waveforms, for that matter) is typically limited to about half the wavelength. However, multiple interference of waves gives rise to subwavelength “hotspots” in the phase owing to what is termed superoscillation of the wave field. Yuan and Zheludev used a specially designed metasurface to interfere laser light (wavelength λ = 800 nm) and created a superoscillatory ruler comprising these hotspots. They demonstrated the ability to measure displacements of around λ/800 while operating at a wavelength of 800 nm. They then showed theoretically that resolving powers of around λ/4000, i.e., atomic-scale displacements, may be possible. The technique should prove useful to metrology applications requiring precision measurements.

Science, this issue p. 771