Dual magnification imaging system for scanning optical microscopes

New optical element provides the ability to orient and target high magnification areas while simultaneously observing large-scale behavior of the specimen

Photonics Electronics

A low magnification view left and a high magnification view right are shown simultaneously by the technology. The high magnification view is a subset of the low magnification view.

To date, scanning optical microscopes have been limited to single magnification objectives. This means a compromise must be made between resolution (high magnification) and size of the field of view (low magnification). This greatly limits the usage of pump-probe microscopy for use in a variety of areas. For example, a cause-effect analysis is important for non-destructive failure analysis of integrated circuits as well as for a variety of other applications including in medical fields. Existing designs do not independently adjust magnification for each field of the fields of view (FOV). And, stereo imaging systems do not independently adjust magnification for each image in a stereo pair and are otherwise limited to low (10×) magnification. Finally, dual magnification imaging systems are insufficient to provide the necessary functionality to achieve a simultaneous coordination between low and high-magnification laser confocal imaging.

In response, Navy microelectronics engineers have designed and developed a dual magnification apparatus that allows two levels of magnification to be observed simultaneously. A high magnification region has enhanced resolution for system stimulation, as well as precise manipulation of the FOV, while a low magnification region has a much larger field of view for observing a stimulation response among other purposes.

In one use case, the operator can place a testing sample in the system and use recorded responses to shift the target areas of two laser sources to observe responses and localize a desired test sample or object of interest (such as a particular type of biological cell or an integrated circuit defect). Lasers of differing wavelengths can be chosen such that one laser can stimulate the test sample and the other laser can provide a view of the test sample responses.

At the core of the system is a dual magnification apparatus where two lasers are split by a refractive lens that is transmissive to the first wavelength and reflective to the second wavelength). One optical path travels through a series of optical doublets to magnify the first wavelength of light at a first magnification, and the second optical path travels through a series of optical doublets to magnify the second wavelength of light at a second magnification. After magnification, the apparatus combines the two optical paths with a second refractive lens such that both wavelengths of light are directed towards the same region of a test sample. Light reflecting off of a test sample re-enters the apparatus and is separated by the first and second optical elements to redirect the wavelengths to separate light detectors.

Among other uses, this technology can be used to determine the operational functionality of a section of an integrated circuit, assuring that it performs precisely and only as specified.

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