Advances in Microscopy Tackle the Challenges of the Future
Miniaturization for added mobility
UV wavelengths for increased resolution and contrast enhancement
Automated systems for more throughput
Liquid lens integration for quick focus adjustment
Optical microscopes have enabled advancements in science, medicine, and industrial applications since the 17th century. They are continually evolving to tackle the challenges of the future. Compact, miniaturized objectives allow microscopy systems to be portable, enabling rapid response in the field. Electrically-tunable liquid lens integration and system automation help drastically increase the throughput of industrial applications, and many microscopy applications are moving to ultraviolet (UV) wavelengths to improve resolution and contrast. These developments allow microscopy systems to meet the demanding requirements of emerging applications.
Miniaturized microscope objectives are ideal for weight and size sensitive applications such as rapid response testing of diseases, water monitoring, and microscopic examination on factory floors. The large size, heavy weight, and complexity of standard microscope systems make them impractical for rapid-response field work. Simplified mechanics and compact optical designs allow modern microscope objectives to be as small as a stack of quarters. Ultra-compact objectives will often have a fixed focus, small baffles, and fixed apertures.
Figure 1: Size Comparison of an Ultra-Compact Microscope Objective with a Standard Microscope Objective
Automated Systems - Let your Microscope do the Work
A wide array of components in modern microscope systems can be automated from focus and stage control, to electromechanical shutters to illumination source switching to image acquisition. Automating these functions can significantly increase throughput and make your process incredibly repeatable and controllable. Automated microscopy systems are extremely valuable when many repeated observations are required.
Figure 2: Video of an Automated Microscopy System that Edmund Optics had on Display at Photonics West 2018
UV Microscopy - Short Wavelengths for High Resolution
Many microscopy applications are utilizing UV wavelengths in pursuit of higher resolution and improved contrast. The wavelength of the light source determines the resolution of optical microscopes, and the short wavelengths of UV radiation can achieve image resolution beyond the diffraction limit of visible light. Contrast is also improved in UV microscopy because of the interaction of UV radiation with the molecules of the sample, which makes features on the sample under examination easier to identify. UV microscopy is ideal for the inspection of devices with miniscule features such as modern semiconductors. UV objectives can also be used with UV lasers to generate small and precise features, making them ideal for laser focusing and processing applications including semiconductor processing, material etching, and aesthetic lasers for wrinkle, tattoo, and hair removal.
Figure 3: UV Microscopy is Ideal for Semiconductor Inspection
Liquid Lens Integration - Quick Focus Adjustment
Liquid lenses are electrically-tunable cells of fluid that quickly change their shape when a current or voltage is applied, adjusting focus to locate objects at different working distances. When integrated into microscope systems in microscopic imaging applications, liquid lenses simplify the process of focus stacking, or z-stacking. Focus stacking is often required when using high magnification objectives due to their limited depths of field. An integrated liquid lens allows objectives to quickly and precisely focus to various object planes, expediting the process of focus stacking and allowing for rapid imaging of thick samples with minimized wasted time between images.
The Future of Microscope Objectives at Edmund Optics®
Ultra Compact Objective Assemblies
TECHSPEC® Ultra Compact Objective Assemblies are Edmund Optics' smallest objectives with nearly the smallest available form factor in the market in their class of working distance, resolution, and magnification. Designed at a magnification of 2X, TECHSPEC® Ultra Compact Objective Assemblies can be easily configured to magnifications of 4X, 5X, 10X, 15X, and 20X by adding extension tubes.
Mitutoyo's NUV and UV infinity corrected long working distance objectives combine improved resolution of using UV wavelengths with the benefits of the standard M Plan Apo and M Plan Apo SL series objectives. They have excellent performance at the doubled, tripled, and quadrupled Nd:YAG harmonics. They are ideal for microscopic inspection of miniscule features, laser materials processing, and medical laser applications.
TECHSPEC® Tunable Compact Objective Liquid Lens Assemblies integrate a liquid lens with our finite conjugate TECHSPEC® Compact Objective Assemblies, allowing for quick working distance adjustment and are available in 2X and 5X versions. They are ideal for a variety of biomedical and machine vision applications including microscopy, pharmaceutical inspection, flow cytometry, and microscopic industrial inspection.
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