World's Most Powerful Optical Microscope Lets Researchers See Inside Viruses | Popular Science: The new method works by integrating a microsphere “superlens” with a traditional optical microscope. The spheres magnify images of items that are placed on the microscope plate, touching the microsphere and forming “virtual images,” according to authors Zengbo Wang, Wei Guo and Lin Li of the University of Manchester, UK. The optical microscope magnifies the virtual images, forming a greatly enhanced image.
“The microspheres are in contact with objects, and the microscope must focus below the object surface to capture the image. This is a very different practice from the normal use of microscopes,” Li said in an e-mail.