Brillouin microscopy allows high–resolution mapping of the mechanical properties of a sample by measuring the spectra of acoustically induced light scattering therein, and thus has been widely investigated for biomedical application.
Measuring the Brillouin spectral shift is challenging when the light is focused onto the interfaces between two materials of different refractive index, because a sizeable portion of the incident light is Fresnel-reflected into the Brillouin spectrometer. To address this need, here, we designed a Brillouin confocal microscope in which the specular reflection at the interface between two materials is physically rejected without significant loss to the Brillouin signal.
To achieve this goal, we illuminate the sample with a small-diameter Gaussian beam focused by a high numerical aperture objective lens. In the collection path, the beam reflected from the sample has the same diameter as the incident beam, while the scattered light beam is as large as the clear aperture of the microscope objective. Therefore, using a small blocking filter allows to efficiently reject the reflected light.
We calculated the tradeoff between extinction improvement and signal loss when the diameter of the blocking filter is changed. Experimentally, we demonstrated extinction improvement of over 60dB with only 30% signal loss while achieving submicron resolutions.
This innovation can be useful for in vivo measurements of the cornea to avoid artifacts in the epithelium and anterior portions of the stroma, as well as to investigate cells cultured on glass coverslips without necessity of index-matching materials.