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The main scientific endeavor in confocal microscopy is to study cellular processes; however, studying these processes in living tissue is both critical and challenging to the field. Traditionally, non-invasive in vivo imaging has struggled with a fundamental problem: using enough light to illuminate a sample when using too much light can cause damage to the sample. Due to advancements in adaptive optics, confocal microscopy can now avoid this trade-off. Because adaptive optics increases not only resolution, but also signal strength and contrast level, low-light levels can now be used for clear, deep-tissue imaging in vivo.
Adaptive Scanning Optical Microscope
A problem encountered in wide-field microscopy and all high-power microscopes is the need to image larger samples at higher magnifications, when higher magnification traditionally restricts microscopic field of view. Existing solutions to this problem include the fast-scanning microscope stage and the fast-scanning lens. Fast-scanning stages serve to move different regions of the sample under the objective in an effort to obtain snapshots that can be stitched together to form a complete image. Oftentimes, however, the moving mechanics themselves introduce new image aberrations. The fast-scanning lens, on the other hand, does not rely on a moving stage, yet traditionally requires expensive and complex optics to overcome inherent image blurring caused by off-axis lens aberrations.
As an alternative to these solutions, Dr. Benjamin Potsaid's team at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute created the Adaptive Scanning Optical Microscope, which uses fast-scanning lens technology coupled with the economical Mini-DM to compensate for off-axis aberrations. The result gives the team at Rensselaer Polytech. the ability to correct aberrations caused by optical imperfections but at a greatly reduced cost when compared to typical high-powered, wide field-of-view scanning microscopes. The ASOM has been licensed by our partner, Thorlabs, and is commercially available.