Rensselaer licenses microscope technology to Thorlabs

Jan. 10, 2007
January 10, 2007, Troy, NY, Newton, NJ--An innovative microscope technology invented by researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has been licensed by Thorlabs. The device, an Adaptive Scanning Optical Microscope (ASOM), provides the ability to view large areas of a sample without sacrificing image resolution. It is especially suited for automating difficult tasks in biological laboratories, from diagnosing cancer to discovering new drugs.

January 10, 2007, Troy, NY, Newton, NJ--An innovative microscope technology invented by researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has been licensed by Thorlabs. The device, an Adaptive Scanning Optical Microscope (ASOM), provides the ability to view large areas of a sample without sacrificing image resolution. It is especially suited for automating difficult tasks in biological laboratories, from diagnosing cancer to discovering new drugs.

The technology was invented at the Center for Automation Technologies and Systems (CATS) at Rensselaer by Ben Potsaid, John Wen, and Yves Bellouard, based in part on funding from the National Science Foundation. Thorlabs has donated equipment to CATS in the past and also actively supports the Smart Optics Laboratory, one of several labs at CATS, where the ASOM research is continuing.

Automated microscopes can capture information that can be difficult or tedious for humans, such as tracking moving organisms or processing large numbers of samples automatically. But there is an inherent tradeoff between field-of-view and magnification -- as you zoom in on a subject, the amount of area you can see in the viewfinder gets smaller. So large regions of a sample cannot be imaged at high resolutions without moving the sample or microscope.

The ASOM overcomes this obstacle by scanning a mirror over the sample, while a camera captures a series of small, distinct snapshots. These images are then assembled into a mosaic, providing a much larger field-of-view at very high resolution, without the need to switch lenses or move the sample.

The challenge with this method is that when the mirror is not looking straight down onto the sample, it introduces blurriness. CATS researchers fixed this problem by employing an adaptive optic element to correct for the off-axis aberrations that cause the blurring. The deviceis made up of Microelectromechanical Systems (MEMS), allowing the ASOM to operate 10-100 times faster than current automated microscopes without disturbing the specimen.

For more information, contact Thorlabs.

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