The patent's inventors are Nezu, Taichirou (Musashino, JP); Kei, Takayuki (Musashino, JP); Hirukawa, Hideo (Musashino, JP); Kuwabara, Yohei (Musashino, JP); Takai, Hironori (Musashino, JP).
This patent was filed on
From the background information supplied by the inventors, news correspondents obtained the following quote: "The invention relates to a confocal microscope system, and in particular, to a confocal microscope system wherein respective units making up the confocal microscope system are integrally combined together in an attempt to achieve improvements on installation space.
"With a confocal microscope system according to the present invention, the focal point of a laser beam, over a specimen, is scanned, and a returning florescent beam from the specimen is caused to form an image to obtain an image of the specimen, thereby carrying out observation on the specimen. Thus, the confocal microscope system is in use for making an observation on morphological observation as well as physiological response of a living cell, in the fields of a living organism, biotechnology, and so froth, or for making an observation on the surface of an LSI, and so forth, in the semiconductor market.
"First, brief explanation is given about a confocal microscope system.
"FIG. 7 is a functional block diagram of a related-art confocal microscope system, showing a configuration example thereof.
"A light source unit 50 is made up of a plurality of multi-wavelength light sources 51a, 51b, 51c, a switching unit 54 for controlling transmission, and blocking of respective laser beams from the light sources, and filters 52a, 52b, 52c, differing from each other in respect of a light-transmission band.
"The respective laser beams that have passed through the switching unit 54 are transmitted through the filters 52a, 52b, 52c, respectively, to fall on an end of an optical fiber 55 to subsequently outgo from the other end of the optical fiber 55 before falling on a mirror 56. The respective laser beams reflected from the mirror 56 fall on a scanner unit 25 comprised of a collimator lens 57, a micro-lens array disk 52, a pinhole disk 53, an objective lens 55, and so forth.
"A photodetector 70 is comprised of dichroic mirrors 72a, 72b, 72c, barrier filters 75a, 75b, 75c, lenses 64a, 64b, 64c, and image pickup cameras 58a, 58b, 58c, the photodetector 70 receiving florescent beams emitted from a specimen 66.
"The barrier filters 75a, 75b, 75c are comprised of a plurality of filters differing in transmission wavelength characteristic from each other. Respective output laser beams that are transmitted through the barrier filters 75a, 75b, 75c are condensed by the lenses 64a, 64b, 64c, respectively, before falling on the image pickup cameras 58a, 58b, 58c, respectively. The image pickup cameras 58a, 58b, 58c each amplifies an image as picked up to be converted into an electric signal before outputting the same.
"An image acquisition device 80 converts the respective electric signals outputted from the image pickup cameras 58a, 58b, 58c, respectively, into image data blocks to be subsequently stored. An image display device 74 normally makes use of a computer to read the image data blocks that are stored in the image acquisition device 80, thereby applying processing thereto as appropriate before displaying an image on a display screen.
"FIG. 8 is a schematic representation of the confocal microscope system described as above, showing a common layout of the system by way of example. The scanner unit 25 is attached to an observation-connection port of a microscope 61, and inside the scanner unit 25, there are provided optical paths of two systems, comprising a bright-field optical path 62, and a confocal optical path 63. The light source unit 50 is a pumping source. The optical fiber 55 guides an excitation beam from the light source unit 50 into the scanner unit 25. The image pickup device (camera) 58 is comprised of a CCD camera and so forth, detecting any of florescent images of a specimen, outgoing from the respective optical paths of the two systems of the scanner unit 25, including the bright-field optical path 62, and the confocal optical path 63. The image display device 74 is comprised of a PC, software, a board, and so forth, fetching image data blocks from the imaging device 58. An image rotation unit 73, and the image display device 74 display the florescent images of the specimen on the basis of the image data blocks as fetched [Patent Document 1] JP 2004-212434 A [Patent Document 2] JP 2009-205083 A
"The related-art confocal microscope system described as above is made by combining a plurality of constituent elements together. The scanner unit, in particular, is often connected to a side-port of a microscope, in which case, a problem has arisen in that the system as a whole has increased in breadth, requiring a large space.
"Furthermore, there has existed another problem that even after accurate positional adjustment is once made on a laser beam to be guided to an optical fiber, and the laser beam is further guided to the scanner unit again, it has been necessary to make accurate adjustment on the angle as well as the position of the laser beam, thereby causing much inconvenience."
Supplementing the background information on this patent, VerticalNews reporters also obtained the inventors' summary information for this patent: "Exemplary embodiments of the present invention address the above disadvantages and other disadvantages not described above. However, the present invention is not required to overcome the disadvantages described above, and thus, an exemplary embodiment of the present invention may not overcome any disadvantages.
"It is one of illustrative aspects of the present invention to provide a confocal microscope system configured so as to be compact in size without the needs for a large space, requiring fewer spots for adjustment.
"According to one or more illustrative aspects of the invention, there is provided the confocal microscope system comprising a laser unit comprising at least not less than one unit of laser oscillator, a Nipkow disk type scanner unit for scanning with a laser beam from the laser unit, a projection optical system for projecting the laser beam for scanning scanned by the Nipkow disk type scanner unit, an X-Y drive device driving a specimen disposed opposite to an objective lens in X-Y directions on a table, a separation optical system for separating a portion of a fluorescent beam from the specimen, having passed through the scanner unit again, an imaging optical system for causing the portion of the fluorescent beam to form an image again, and an image capture unit disposed on an imaging plane of the imaging optical system, wherein respective units making up the confocal microscope system are integrally housed in a protection cabinet covering the confocal microscope system, and when the specimen is moved toward an external face of the protection cabinet, a side of the external face, adjacent to an opening through which the specimen is taken in, or out, is defined as a front face, the Nipkow disk type scanner unit is disposed backward of the objective lens."
For the URL and additional information on this patent, see: Nezu, Taichirou; Kei, Takayuki; Hirukawa, Hideo; Kuwabara, Yohei; Takai, Hironori. Confocal Microscope System. U.S. Patent Number 8643947, filed
Keywords for this news article include:
Our reports deliver fact-based news of research and discoveries from around the world. Copyright 2014, NewsRx LLC
Most Popular Stories
- Koch Brothers Step up Anti-Obamacare Campaign
- FDIC Sues Big Banks Over Rate Manipulation
- Vybz Kartel Convicted of Murder
- SoCalGas Reaches Record Spend on Diversity Suppliers
- FDIC Accuses Big Banks of Fraud, Conspiracy
- Stocks Close Lower Ahead of Crimea Vote
- U.S. Consumer Sentiment Falls in Early March
- Jittery Investors Dumping Russian Stocks
- Is Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 in Andaman Sea?
- Ulta Shares Look Good on Strong Q4