Improved scanners to be incorporated into hyperspectral microscope-based imaging systems have been invented. Heretofore, in microscopic imaging, including spectral imaging, it has been customary to either move the specimen relative to the optical assembly that includes the microscope or else move the entire assembly relative to the specimen. It becomes extremely difficult to control such scanning when submicron translation increments are required, because the high magnification of the microscope enlarges all movements in the specimen image on the focal plane. To overcome this difficulty, in a system based on this invention, no attempt would be made to move either the specimen or the optical assembly. Instead, an objective lens would be moved within the assembly so as to cause translation of the image at the focal plane: the effect would be equivalent to scanning in the focal plane.
The upper part of the figure depicts a generic proposed microscope-based hyperspectral imaging system incorporating the invention. The optical assembly of this system would include an objective lens (normally, a microscope objective lens) and a charge-coupled-device (CCD) camera. The objective lens would be mounted on a servomotor-driven translation stage, which would be capable of moving the lens in precisely controlled increments, relative to the camera, parallel to the focal-plane scan axis. The output of the CCD camera would be digitized and fed to a frame grabber in a computer. The computer would store the frame-grabber output for subsequent viewing and/or processing of images. The computer would contain a position-control interface board, through which it would control the servomotor.
There are several versions of the invention. An essential feature common to all versions is that the stationary optical sub-assembly containing the camera would also contain a spatial window, at the focal plane of the objective lens, that would pass only a selected portion of the image. In one version, the window would be a slit, the CCD would contain a one-dimensional array of pixels, and the objective lens would be moved along an axis perpendicular to the slit to spatially scan the image of the specimen in “pushbroom” fashion. The image built up by scanning in this case would be an ordinary (non-spectral) image.
In another version, the optics of which are depicted in the lower part of the figure, the spatial window would be a slit, the CCD would contain a two-dimensional array of pixels, the slit image would be refocused onto the CCD by a relay-lens pair consisting of a collimating and a focusing lens, and a prism-grating-prism optical spectrometer would be placed between the collimating and focusing lenses. Consequently, the image on the CCD would be spatially resolved along the slit axis and spectrally resolved along the axis perpendicular to the slit. As in the first-mentioned version, the objective lens would be moved along an axis perpendicular to the slit to spatially scan the image of the specimen in “pushbroom” fashion.
This work was done by Chengye Mao of the Institute for Technology Development for Stennis Space Center.
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