Microscopy of biological sample through advanced diffractive optics from visible to X-ray wavelength regime

Enzo Di Fabrizio*, Dan Cojoc, Valentina Emiliani, Stefano Cabrini, Maite Coppey-Moisan, Enrico Ferrari, Valeria Garbin, Matteo Altissimo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


The aim of this report is to demonstrate a unified version of microscopy through the use of advanced diffractive optics. The unified scheme derives from the technical possibility of realizing front wave engineering in a wide range of electromagnetic spectrum. The unified treatment is realized through the design and nanofabrication of phase diffractive elements (PDE) through which wave front beam shaping is obtained. In particular, we will show applications, by using biological samples, ranging from micromanipulation using optical tweezers to X-ray differential interference contrast (DIC) microscopy combined with X-ray fluorescence. We report some details on the design and physical implementation of diffractive elements that besides focusing also perform other optical functions: beam splitting, beam intensity, and phase redistribution or mode conversion. Laser beam splitting is used for multiple trapping and independent manipulation of micro-beads surrounding a cell as an array of tweezers and for arraying and sorting microscopic size biological samples. Another application is the Gauss to Laguerre-Gauss mode conversion, which allows for trapping and transfering orbital angular momentum of light to micro-particles immersed in a fluid. These experiments are performed in an inverted optical microscope coupled with an infrared laser beam and a spatial light modulator for diffractive optics implementation. High-resolution optics, fabricated by means of e-beam lithography, are demonstrated to control the intensity and the phase of the sheared beams in x-ray DIC microscopy. DIC experiments with phase objects reveal a dramatic increase in image contrast compared to bright-field x-ray microscopy. Besides the topographic information, fluorescence allows detection of certain chemical elements (Cl, P, Sc, K) in the same setup, by changing the photon energy of the x-ray beam.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)252-262
Number of pages11
JournalMicroscopy Research and Technique
Issue number4-5
StatePublished - Nov 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Chemical map
  • Diffractive optics
  • Optical trapping
  • Phase contrast
  • Scanning microscopy
  • Wave front engineering

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Histology
  • Instrumentation
  • Medical Laboratory Technology


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