A 7-mm OD, NA = 1 water immersion injection-molded plastic endoscope objective has been fabricated for a laser scanning fiber confocal reflectance microscope (FCRM) system specifically designed for <i>in vivo</i> detection of cervical and oral pre-cancers. Injection-molded optics was selected for the ability to incorporate aspheric surfaces into the optical design and its high volume capabilities. Our goal is high performance disposable endoscope probes. This objective has been built and tested as a stand-alone optical system, a Strehl ratio greater than 0.6 has been obtained. One of the limiting factors of optical performance is believed to be flow-induced birefringence. We have investigated different configurations for birefringence visualization and believe the circular polariscope is most useful for inspection of injection-molded plastic optics. In an effort to decrease birefringence effects, two experiments were conducted. They included: (1) annealing of the optics after fabrication and (2) modifying the injection molding prameters (packing pressures, injection rates, and hold time). While the second technique showed improvement, the annealing process could not improve quality without physically warping the lenses. Therefore, to effectively reduce flow-induced birefringence, molding conditions have to be carefully selected. These parameters are strongly connected to the physical part geometry. Both optical design and fabrication technology have to be considered together to deliver low birefringence while maintaining the required manufacturing tolerances. In this paper we present some of our current results that illustrate how flow-induced birefringence can degrade high performance injection-molded plastic optical systems.
In collaboration with the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin and the UT MD Anderson Cancer Center, a laser scanning fiber confocal reflectance microscope (FCRM) system has been designed and tested for in vivo detection of cervical and oral pre-cancers. This system along with specially developed diagnosis algorithms and techniques can achieve an unprecedented specificity and sensitivity for the diagnosis of pre-cancers in epithelial tissue. The FCRM imaging system consists of an NdYAG laser (1064 nm), scanning mirrors/optics, precision pinhole, detector, and an endoscopic probe (the objective). The objective is connected to the rest of the imaging system via a fiber bundle. The fiber bundle allows the rest of the system to be remotely positioned in a convenient location. Only the objective comes into contact with the patient. It is our intent that inexpensive mass-produced disposable endoscopic probes would be produced for large clinical trials. This paper touches on the general design process of developing a miniature, high numerical aperture, injection-molded (IM) objective. These IM optical designs are evaluated and modified based on manufacturing and application constraints. Based on these driving criteria, one specific optical design was chosen and a detailed tolerance analysis was conducted. The tolerance analysis was custom built to create a realistic statistical analysis for integrated IM lens elements that can be stacked one on top of another using micro-spheres resting in tiny circular grooves. These configurations allow each lens element to be rotated and possibly help compensate for predicted manufacturing errors. This research was supported by a grant from the National Institutes of Health (RO1 CA82880). Special thanks go to Applied Image Group/Optics for the numerous fabrication meetings concerning the miniature IM objective.
A method for recording true holograms directly to a digital video medium in a single image has been invented. This technology makes the amplitude and phase for every pixel of the target object wave available. Since phase is proportional wavelength, this makes high-resolution metrology an implicit part of the holographic recording. Measurements of phase can be made to one hundredth or even one thousandth of a wavelength, so the technology is attractive for dining defects on semiconductor wafers, where feature sizes are now smaller than the wavelength of even deep UV light.