Physical magnification of objects
For hundreds of years, scientists have aimed photons, electrons, and X-rays at objects in order to obtain magnified images of them, revealing their micro- and nanoscale architecture, and revolutionizing every branch of the sciences. Recently a new modality of magnification was discovered – physical magnification of objects. For objects with certain properties, such as biological specimens, one can synthesize throughout them a dense, even network of swellable polymer, so that further chemical processing steps will isotropically expand the polymer, and thus the object, manyfold in physical dimension. We here explore the principles governing this new modality of magnification, such as the ability to use inexpensive, ubiquitous imaging hardware to perform high-resolution imaging of objects, and the ability to decrowd molecules within an object for detailed in situ chemical analysis.