Women in Nanoscience


Women in Nano Blog

Another reason why human eyes are amazing- nanoscale color resolution

Posted on August 28, 2015 at 5:00 PM

Human eyes are amazing; we all know that. Our eyes can distinguish millions of shades that cannot be achieved by even the most expensive camera tools. Ms. Sandy Peterhänsel, a scientist at the Institute of Applied Optics at University of Stuttgart, Germany, recently showed that human eyes can distinguish color differences between nanoscale thin-films whose thickness differs by as little as 1-2 nm!


Peterhänsel and her colleagues fabricated a series of titanium dioxide thin films with thickness varying from 40 to 200 nm. The participants in the experiment were asked to match the color of the thin film to a simulated color with thickness calibration on a pure-LCD monitor, which would allow them to estimate the thickness of the thin film. The experiment only took a few minutes, and they were able to determine the sample thickness with as good as 1 nm resolution. Although using human eyes might not be as reliable as using an automated system to determine film thickness, the study showed that our eyes could be used as a quick way to determine thin film thickness. In addition, our eyes have nanoscale color resolution, which had not been reported before. Details of this work were published in the journal Optica, and have been featured in Phys.Org, Materials Today, Medical Daily, and Science Daily.

(Ms.Noora Heikkliä, one of the participants in the experiment, is looking at the screen to match the actual color of the thin film with simulated color of a known thickness.)

- Written by Eugene Choi, Edited by Paulette Clancy

(Photo credit: Provided by and used with permission from Sandy Peterhänsel).

Categories: WINnews

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