Like most parameters in photography, resolution has an upper limit dictated by the laws of physics. However, a team of clever scientists have discovered a way around that fundamental bound, creating new possibilities for imaging in many realms.
The Rayleigh Criterion has long been accepted as the lower limit on resolvable detail in an optical system using visible light. In short, it places a limit on how much detail we can see before the level of diffraction exceeds the resolution. However, Physicists Martin Paúr, Bohumil Stoklasa, Zdenek Hradil, Luis L. Sánchez-Soto, and Jaroslav Rehacek (Palacký University, Universidad Complutense Madrid, and the Max Planck Institute) have devised a clever way around that.
Whereas resolving power has long been based purely on information taken purely from the intensity of the light, it turns out that much more detail can be extracted from the phase of the light — so much so that the team was able to achieve resolutions 17 times beyond that of the Rayleigh Criterion. Says team member Sánchez-Soto: "Textbook optics should be reconsidered and Rayleigh's limit placed in a broader context." In other words, the Rayleigh Criterion wasn't so much a consequence of the nature of optics, but rather of the detection methods that discarded additional data. The implications are potentially huge: everything from telescopes and microscopes to camera sensors could one day take advantage of the extra information to produce much more detailed images. While this development is still in the early stages, it's very exciting news for the imaging world.
[via PHYS ORG]