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Project TitleScanning Phase Intracavity Nanoscope
Track Code2007-052
Short Description

An optical instrument based on making differential measurements on the phase of two circulating ultrashort laser pulses in order to achieve unprecedented spatial resolution and sensitivity.

Abstract

The underlying physical principles include the conversion of phase (or distance) as small as a billionth (10−9) of a wavelength inside a laser to a measurable frequency and the discovery that the injection of even one trillionth (10−12) of one pulse into the other is sufficient to change measurably the frequency of the latter. Equipped with mechanical nano-positioners, a complete instrument, which can be called a Scanning Phase Intracavity Nanoscope (SPIN), is unique and provides a novel approach in imaging. In various embodiments, the transfer of a one-dimensional, sub nm spatial resolution, to all three dimensions with nm resolution can be realized. This can be achieved by scanning the beam not only along transverse coordinates, but rotationally along all directions.

 
Tagsmicroscopy, Nanoscope, imaging
 
Posted DateJan 10, 2011 2:09 PM

Researcher

Name
Ladan Arissian
Jean-Claude Diels

Manager

Name
Briana Wobbe

Background

The quest to visualize ever smaller, fainter structures has driven much scientific progresses. Spatial resolution and contrast, essential factors in imaging, are limited by the wavelength and the intensity noise, respectively. While shorter wavelengths (X-rays, electron beams) can improve resolution and fluorescent labeling can increase contrast, these benefits come at the expense of harmful radiation and invasive sample preparation. The “State of the Art” in conventional optical microscopy is limited by the wavelength. There have been attempts to “break the barrier” of the wavelength. These attempts reach fraction of wavelength resolution. The general trend for improved resolution has been to develop sources and techniques at much shorter wavelengths and the shorter the wavelength, the more harmful the radiation. Most of the techniques with shorter wavelength radiation require complex environmental conditions (for instance, in vacuum for the electron microscope), and most generally sophisticated sample preparation.

Current methods that seek to build three-dimensional reconstructions of a sample using the diffraction of light by index of refraction variations, such as Optical Diffraction Tomography (ODT), are ultimately limited in their resolution. In addition, in living cells, many structures of interest are either too small or do not have an index difference large enough for suitable contrast. For this reason, fluorescence microscopy has become the most widely used optical technique for studying living cells. With fluorescence microscopy, the cellular component of interest is labeled with a fluorophore for specificity and contrast. The fluorophores can interact with molecular oxygen, thus irreversibly chemically altering the fluorophore (photo-bleaching) and creating free radical singlet oxygen that can further damage other molecules in the cell. The destruction of the fluorophore by photo-bleaching limits the amount of emitted and collected photons from each probe, placing restrictions on long term studies and requiring high signal to noise.

Technology Description

Researchers at the University of New Mexico have invented an optical instrument based on making differential measurements on the phase of two circulating ultrashort laser pulses in order to achieve unprecedented spatial resolution and sensitivity. The underlying physical principles include the conversion of phase (or distance) as small as a billionth (10−9) of a wavelength inside a laser to a measurable frequency and the discovery that the injection of even one trillionth (10−12) of one pulse into the other is sufficient to change measurably the frequency of the latter. Equipped with mechanical nano-positioners, a complete instrument, which can be called a Scanning Phase Intracavity Nanoscope (SPIN), is unique and provides a novel approach in imaging. In various embodiments, the transfer of a one-dimensional, sub nm spatial resolution, to all three dimensions with nm resolution can be realized. This can be achieved by scanning the beam not only along transverse coordinates, but rotationally along all directions.

Advantages/Applications

  • Provides three dimensional images of a biological object, with a spatial resolution of 1 nm, in vivo, using light
  • Whole instrumentation may be inside an ultrashort pulse laser
  • Sample to be observed can be in any host material, water or tissue
  • No sample preparation required
  • A 1 dimensional (1D) resolution of 1 pm can be achieved
  • In 3D scanning with one μm wavelength light, the maximum expected resolution is 1 nm3, which is a factor 1000× better than the resolution of any optical imaging system
  • In opposition to classical interferometry, where a difference between the intensity of two beams is detected, this device detects the difference between two optical frequencies
  • Applications include monitoring and controlling drug dynamics at the intra-cellular level, studying biological objects, imaging of semiconductor structures, and many more

INQUIRES

STC has filed intellectual property on this exciting new technology and is currently exploring commercialization options. If you are interested in information about this or other technologies, please contact Arlene Mirabal at amirabal@stc.unm.edu or 505-272-7886.

Files

File Name Description
8,446,592 Issued Patent None Download

Intellectual Property

Patent Number Issue Date Type Country of Filing
8,446,592 None Utility United States