The assignee for this patent, patent number 8797551, is
Reporters obtained the following quote from the background information supplied by the inventors: "Optical imaging of a specimen such as a biological specimen has always been a formidable and challenging task because the complex microscopic structure of tissues causing strong scattering of the incident radiation. The invention of confocal microscopy and its advanced development in the past few years have provided the researcher the capability to study biological specimens including living organisms without the need for tissue resection and histological processing. However, the presence of multiple scattering in samples limits confocal microscopy to specimens which are thin and mostly transparent. There is a need, therefore, for new optical methods capable of in vivo imaging deeper inside highly scattering tissues and other biological specimens.
"Optical coherence tomography ('OCT') is a technology that allows for noninvasive, cross-sectional optical imaging in biological media with high spatial resolution and high sensitivity. OCT is an extension of low coherence or white-light interferometry, in which a low temporal coherence light source is utilized to obtain precise localization of reflections internal to a probed structure along an optic axis (i.e., as a function of depth into the sample). OCT delivers high resolution because it is based on light, rather than sound or radio frequency. An optical beam is directed at the tissue, and a small portion of this light that reflects from sub-surface features is collected. In this, most of the light is not reflected but, rather, scatters. The scattered light has lost its original direction and does not contribute to forming an image but rather contributes to glare. Using the OCT technique, scattered light can be filtered out, completely removing the glare. Even the very tiny proportion of reflected light that is not scattered can then be detected and used to form the image. In the OCT instrument, an optical interferometer is used in such a manner as to detect only coherent light. In the process the depth and the intensity of the light reflected from a sub-surface feature is obtained. A three-dimensional image can be built by scanning, as in a sonar or radar system. The most commonly used interferometers in these devices are Michelson and Mach-Zehnder interferometer (MZI) which are well-known.
"References [1, 2] report an interferometric system which comprises a Michelson Interferometer for imaging using OCT. The signal is detected by a grating based spectrometer equipped with a linear detector array (or a line-scan camera).
"U.S. Pat. No. 7,443,514 discloses a system and method for using a spatial light modulator (SLM) which may be a GLV (Grating light valve, as described in reference 3), to perform a null test of an (aspheric) optical surface, where the system comprises a Michelson interferometer. If the input signal comprises of a broad-band-wavelength light, a grating light valve separates the light into light with narrow-band-wavelengths and outputs them sequentially at different time intervals in a single output fiber. A GLV is a type of a tunable filter.
"In the above (U.S. Pat. No. 7,443,514) disclosed prior art, while the interferometer used is the Michelson Interferometer, the specimen tested is a non-living, highly controlled optical element, and no ranging (or OCT imaging) operation is performed. In contrast, our device will perform measurements in scattering specimens such as biological specimens and other non-living highly scattering specimens such as a sponge. Our device will also perform a ranging operation and OCT imaging in living and non-living specimens.
"In U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,847,827 and 7,079,256 B2, the Mach-Zehnder interferometer (MZI) is built using bulk optical elements and uses time-domain form of optical-coherence-tomography. Spectral-domain OCT using MZI has not yet been reported.
"Further, OCT interferometric systems known in the art are complex in arranging optical devices and expensive as well as not portable.
"Accordingly, there is a need for compact, portable and economical interferometric system that works in reflection mode than transmission mode."
In addition to obtaining background information on this patent, NewsRx editors also obtained the inventors' summary information for this patent: "In view of the foregoing disadvantages inherent in the prior art, the general purpose of the present invention is to provide a novel compact, affordable optical test, measurement or imaging device that is configured to include all advantages of the prior art, and to overcome the drawbacks inherent therein.
"An object of the present invention is to provide a novel compact, affordable optical test, measurement or imaging device used for detection, imaging of ocular structures and pathology in diagnostic, diagnosis and pathogenesis.
"Another object of the present invention is to provide a spectral-domain interferometric system that comprises a Mach-Zehnder interferometer, and an optical system laterally scanning the specimen. Here and in the rest of the specifications, laterally scanning means scanning the beam in a direction perpendicular to the beam. Such a direction can be called x or y or any direction in x-y plane. Such lateral scanning provides multi-dimensional imaging as well as multi-dimensional metrology and multi-dimensional measurements. Lateral scanning can provide 2-dimensional or 3-dimennsional images. Lateral scanning can provide 2-dimensional or 3-dimennsional measurements. Lateral scanning can provide 2-dimensional or 3-dimennsional metrology. Such lateral scanning also permits optical coherence tomography (OCT) imaging.
"Another object of the present invention is to provide an interferometric system that comprises a Mach-Zehnder interferometer, a frequency (ie., wavelength)-tunable detector and optionally a lateral scanning (of the specimen) mechanism. A tunable detector as defined in this invention comprises of a tunable filter (preceding the detector), which separates the input broad-band light into light with narrow-band-wavelengths and outputs them sequentially at different time intervals in a single output fiber.
"In an aspect of the present invention, an interferometric system for imaging a biological sample is provided. The interferometric system comprises a broadband light source, a plurality of beam splitters, a plurality of minors, a sample, a lateral scanning optical system, a tunable filter, a detector and a data processing system.
"In another aspect of the present invention, a method for generating a tomographic image of a sample is provided. The method includes a) light from the broadband light source which is operating at a suitable center wavelength enters into the interferometer where it gets separated into sample arm and reference arm using an optic beam splitter (B1). A light from the sample arm enters into the sample by means of lateral scanning optical system, and the back scattered light from the sample gets completely reflected at the beam splitter (B2) (99% R, 1% T) through lateral scanning optical system, and enters into beam splitter (B3) (99% T, 1% R). A light from the reference arm gets reflected by minor and reaches the beam splitter (B3). The light from the sample and reference arms, interfere each other at beam splitter (B3) before entering a tunable filter which wavelength-division-multiplexes the interfered light, and then finally enters into a detector for analysis. Wavelength-division-multiplexing as defined in this invention is a process of separating the input broad-band light into light with narrow-bands-with various center-wavelengths and outputting them sequentially at different time intervals in a single output fiber.
"These together with the other aspects of the present invention, along with the various features of novelty that characterized the present invention, are pointed out with particularity in the claims annexed hereto and form a part of the present invention. For a better understanding of the present invention, its operating advantages, and the specified object attained by its uses, reference should be made to the accompanying drawings and descriptive matter in which there are illustrated exemplary embodiments of the present invention."
For more information, see this patent: Kulkarni, Manish D; Ma, Shuqing; Devaraj, Balasigamani. Compact, Affordable Optical Test, Measurement Or Imaging Device. U.S. Patent Number 8797551, filed
Keywords for this news article include: Broadband, Electronics,
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