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About the Author

Michael Feinberg is the Director of Product Marketing at Boston Micromachines Corporation.  He has over 10 years of marketing and engineering experience in various technology fields.  He can be reached at mrf@bostonmicromachines.com  and welcomes any comments about the content presented herein.

 

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MEMS Deformable Mirrors vs. Liquid Crystal-Based Devices

Posted by Angelica Perrone on Tue, Sep 30, 2014 @ 02:00 PM
  
  
  
  
  

New Mini mount resized 600Before Deformable Mirrors became popular in the Adaptive Optics industry, consumers would generally turn to liquid crystal-based device (LCOS) spatial light modulators to confront their challenges. Here at BMC, we regularly receive questions on how all deformable mirrors, in addition to our MicroElectroMechanical (MEMS) deformable mirrors, compare to LCOS devices. Below I have touched upon some of the top differences between the two devices that I believe should play an important factor in one’s decision to purchase a wavefront shaping device.

1)      LCOS devices are only available in a segmented architecture, where MEMS DMs offer both continuous and segmented styles in various styles and options. Although both layouts have their own advantages, most researchers favor the continuous model. Due to discontinuities between the actuators, it prevents any sharp edges within the image, making it well suited for imaging applications. Claire Max at UC Santa Cruz has explained and presented calculations on how you can achieve higher level of correction capability with a continuous mirror. Check out slide 47, which goes over her calculations here.  

2)       With MEMS DMs, we are able to offer strokes up to 5.5um (1.5um, 3.5um and 5.5um available), while LCOS SLMs are generally limited to only a stroke of 2PI in the visible region. This can be a major inconvenience for certain applications with higher amplitude aberrations. 

3)      The response time of our devices have always been much faster than any liquid crystal device on the market, while recent updates to our product line achieve even FASTER rates than before. Our devices can operate up to 60 kHz with our new high speed Kilo-S Driver or our Low-Latency Driver, whereas LCOS devices are limited to only a few hundred Hertz at best.  

4)      For the most part, LCOS devices are transmission based, causing light to be absorbed by the medium and resulting in lost light. There have been reflective devices introduced recently, however, they tend to scatter large amounts of light due to the small segment sizes. With a MEMS device, our segmented mirrors are over 98% reflective and our continuous mirrors are greater than 99%. Of course, this is the case only with the appropriate coating for the wavelength at which you are operating.  

If you're interested in learning more about the differences between MEMS DMs and LCOS devices or the differences between any other mirrors currently on the market, please feel free to contact us here.  

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Adaptive Optics Correcting for Highly Scattering Media: A New Approach

Posted by Angelica Perrone on Thu, May 15, 2014 @ 11:05 AM
  
  
  
  
  

Scattering media can be a real headache if you are looking to achieve high-resolution, deep tissue in vivo images. Without adaptive optics, do not anticipate having the optical control you need to correct for scattering media effectively. But no need to worry, we have a solution.test bed S MPM resized 600

Since standard Multiphoton Microscopy just wasn’t cutting it, the Cui Lab at Howard Hughes Medical Center pioneered a new technique that Boston University also recently developed, called Superpentation Multi-Photon Microscopy (S-MPM). Each group uses a different optimization scheme but the outcome is the same: The enhanced technique permits active compensation of wavefront aberrations in a scanning beam path through the use of a BMC MEMS Spatial Light Modulator (SLM), allowing for increased depth imaging.

Developed at Boston University and commercialized by Boston Micromachines, the enabling components are the Kilo-SLM and the high speed S-driver. With these components incorporated into the test bed shown in Fig. 1, images of 1 µm diameter fluorescent beads through 280 µm thick mouse skull can be achieved at depths of about 500 µm. The SLM corrected low order spherical aberrations as well as higher order scattering effects. Signal enhancement with higher resolution and contrast were improved by 10x-100x. The optimized SLM phase improves imaging over a field of view of 10-20 µm for samples tested to date with techniques currently in the works to improve upon this.

With 600 nm of stroke and 60 kHz of maximum frame rate, the Kilo-S System comes in a variety of options to fit your needs at a much reduced cost over our standard 1000 channel system. Contact us today for more information on our Kilo-S or any of our other systems! 

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FAQ: BMC Deformable Mirrors for Laser Applications:Power

Posted by Angelica Perrone on Wed, Apr 02, 2014 @ 11:00 AM
  
  
  
  
  

About half of our customers use our deformable mirrors for laser applications, such as beam shaping or steering. We get a lot of questions pertaining to laser power and handling for both our deformable mirrors and modulators.  Below is a summary of the guidelines we use when discussing our technolgy.

The most important specification to note immediately if you are working with lasers is the damage threshold of our DM's. There are two mechanisms of failure to consider: mirror damage due to heating and coating delamination.  The first failure mode is largely governed by the average power experienced by the DM. The rule of thumb that we follow is maximum average power of 20W/cm². For the second failure mode, the peak energy is of greatest concern.  In this case, the threshold that we use is that of a standard thin-film gold metallic coating, in this case, 0.4J/cm². Depending on the DM system, the calculations may be slightly different. In order to ensure a DM is suitable for your application, we typically need to know as many of the following properties as possible: the pulse width of the laser, peak power, frequency, wavelength and beam size. This last pameter will help to determine which aperture size is required and if you need to change your beam size at all. Additional information on laser power can be found on our previous blog here.

From a power threshold standpoint, our modulator technology works similarly to our deformable mirror technology. However, it may have a slightly lower damage threshold due to the fact that the exposed surface is a thin layer of silicon nitride as opposed to the thicker polysilicon surface used for our deformable mirrors. Honestly, we do not have much experience testing the devices.  If you are interested in carrying out testing, we would be glad to lend you some modulators to test.

If you are interested in learning more about customers' experience with high-power lasers used on our DM's, please click here to read Andrew Norton's paper on laser test performed using our DMs. Also, please visit our website or contact us for questions or additional information on how to obtain a device for testing.

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Photonics West/BiOS Exhibition Recap

Posted by Angelica Perrone on Wed, Feb 26, 2014 @ 10:45 AM
  
  
  
  
  

describe the image

 

Just a few weeks ago we arrived back from the Photonics West 2014 exhibition and conference in San Francisco, CA. I wanted to share details and further observations on the show for those present at the show and those not being able to attend this year. 

For the first time we made the decision to also attend the BiOS exhibition for the few days prior to PWest. Not being quite sure what to expect for booth traffic, especially since it conflicted with the superbowl, we still generated a good amount of interest for the smaller show. Our main presentations focused on our new adaptive optics-enhanced scanning laser ophthamoscope (AOSLO), the Apaeros Retinal Imaging System, which includes our Multi-DM, and the Superpenetration Multiphoton Microscopy technique, which is enabled by our Kilo-SLM and high speed S-Driver. Although both exhibits generated respectable notice and positive feedback, most people were familiar with the Superpentration Multiphoton work being done. Either wanting to try two-photon microscopy themselves or already in the process of doing so, our Kilo-SLM paired with our high speed S-driver presented data that was intriguing to most.

After wrapping up BiOS, we headed to the opposite side of the South hall at the Moscone Center for a larger booth setup for PWest. Here we had our entire mirror family on display, as well as live demonstrations of the Reflective Optical Chopper and Wavefront Sensorless Adaptive Optics Demonstrator for Beam Shaping (WSAOD-B). For this part of the exhibition, I would say our deformable mirrors produced the most attention, most likely due to our wide assortment of shapes and actuator counts up to 4092. The WSAOD-B live demonstration did generate a great deal of attention, as most people are unaware of how sensorless AO works. Besides our deformable mirror line, I would still say the Multiphoton Microscopy overview was initiating even further interest here as well.

Overall BMC had a great show and it seemed well worth it to expand our exhibit onto BiOS beforehand. Although this was my first time attending the show, I noticed every inch of space at PWest being used for exhibitor tables and booths, even setting up in front of the bathrooms! I hope to see PWest advance even larger, maybe one day expanding to its third space, West Hall. I look forward to next year’s show and hope to reconnect with you all again throughout the year.

If you were not able to attend the show and would like any information on the products mentioned, please visit our website and download our whitepapers

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FAQ: Flatness of BMC Deformable Mirrors

Posted by Angelica Perrone on Thu, Jan 16, 2014 @ 10:36 AM
  
  
  
  
  

Happy New Year! Hope everyone had a great holiday and is staying warm.

To continue addressing our FAQ's, another recurring question BMC recieves is on the flatness of our deformable mirrors.  The figure below shows an unpowered BMC DM and a flattened BMC DM. 

Flatness

The surface figure of our unpowered deformable mirrors has a low-order surface bow. The amount of stroke needed to flatten the DM is between .5 µm and 1 µm, depending on the model. We can guarantee that the stroke needed to flatten the deformable mirror will not exceed this amount and tends to be lower for the lower stroke devices.

However, researchers in the past have been able to achieve flattening the wavefront without using up any stroke on the DM. If you are able to include additional optics into your setup, the low order bow can be taken out with static optics. Just something to keep in mind as you are designing your system and trying to determine how much stroke is required to achieve your wavefront correction needs.

If you have any additional questions in regards to the flatness of our mirrors or are interested in seeing what the typical unpowered surface figure is, please contact us at moreinfo@bostonmicromachines.com or visit us online at www.bostonmicromachines.com

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FAQ: BMC Deformable Mirror Reflectivity

Posted by Angelica Perrone on Fri, Dec 20, 2013 @ 08:00 AM
  
  
  
  
  
Over the past couple of months we have been receiving an assortment of questions in regards to our products. We thought it would be a good idea to share the more popular questions and answers as they stream in to keep everyone updated.

One question that tends to be asked quite often is the reflectivity our deformable mirrors can achieve. This depends on a couple of factors such as mirror coating, protective window AR coating and the wavelength of the light. 

Figure 1

We offer gold, aluminum and protected silver coating on almost all of our deformable mirrors. When selecting a coating, you should pay particular attention to the wavelength(s) of light you use. The BMC DM Coating Reflectivity chart to the right illustrates the reflectivity of each of our standard coatings.

Our standard windows with AR coating are BK-7.  We offer a few options, depending on which size mirror you select.  For our smaller DMs, we offer the standard coatings from Thorlabs as well as a few more versatile options.  You may choose either uncoated, 350-700nm, 650-1050nm or 1050-1620nm.  We also offer a 400-1100nm window and 550-2400nm, the latter for an additional cost.  For our larger DMs, various coating options are available. We do offer customizable options for an extra fee, so please contact us with your specifications if you require this.

The N-BK7 Broadband Antireflection Coatings chart from Thorlabs below depicts the percentage of  light lost for each AR coated window. Similar curves are available for our other coatings.Antireflection coatings Thorlabs
               

If you are looking for additional information on our standard windows, please visit our friends at Thorlabs online. If you have any further questions on the reflectivity of our mirrors, click here to send us an e-mail or visit us online at www.bostonmicromachines.com

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Further focus at CLEO 2013

Posted by Michael Feinberg on Tue, Jul 09, 2013 @ 11:54 AM
  
  
  
  
  

It's been a few weeks since we returned frocleo resized 600m the Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics 2013 and now that we're settled back in to the daily routine, I thought I would give some highlights on the show. I was happy to be joined this time by our new Marketing and Communications Specialist, Angelica Perrone, who did a great job navigating the complex photonics market for the first time.

While the conference seems to be chugging along at a nice pace, the tradeshow has most definitely become a smaller venue.  We were once again hosted by our strategic partner, Thorlabs (thanks, again guys!) and being in such a central location on the floor, we were able to get a good flavor for the pace of the show.  Here are my thoughts:

Little, different, yellow, better

Anybody get that Nuprin reference?  Anybody? See what I 'm talking about here.

Okay, so it's not yellow (although yellow lasers are cool), but the show is definitely getting smaller.  I mentioned to a colleague that since the show is in San Jose for the second year in the row, it seemed like the barriers on either end of the tradeshow floor had moved in just a bit. 

As far as different, the show is not like other photonics shows in that it is pretty focused in its applications.  While there were some interesting talks on microscopy, this was a small portion of the material, with most others focussing on more laser-centric applications, as the title of the conference implies. 

As far as better, I would say that for BMC, it was most definitely better for our new products:  The Reflective Optical Chopper(ROC) and the Linear Array DM.  We recieved more interest in these products over our legacy deformable mirror technologies. This is exciting for me as a product marketer and salesperson and even moreso as a member of a company that is always looking for new avenues for our technology. We see the ROC being useful for users who span from pure laser scientists to imaging engineers interested in chopping a beam at high speed with either a constant or variable duty cycle.  The linear array has already proven useful in pulse shaping applications as described in our whitepaper, which is available for download here.  Both products are available for purchase now.

Our Wavefront Sensorless Adaptive Optics Demonstrator for Beam Shaping (WSAOD-B)also generated some buzz. More and more applications which require wavefront correction are surfacing and need a solution without a wavefront sensor.

In all, it was a good show that has given me and my team work to do as we explore more exotic applications for our technology.  I look forward to joining the show again next year and I hope to connect with all of you again in the near future!

For more information on the products mentioned above, please visit our website and download our whitepapers.

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Reflective Optical Chopper Outperforms the Rest

Posted by Angelica Perrone on Thu, Jun 20, 2013 @ 01:11 PM
  
  
  
  
  

As Boston Micromachines' newest member, I would first and foremost like to introduce myself. My name is Angelica and I have joined the BMC team as their Marketing and Communications Associate. It has been some time now since our last blog and I thought it would be appropriate to discuss our most recent product; The Reflective Optical Chopper, or ROC.ROC with driver 130326 No Logo

               Optical Choppers, being frequently used for signal recovery in improving signal-to-noise ratio, are used to convert a continuous laser beam into a chopped one. Traditional Optical Choppers offer various pains, such as the need to alter the beam size to fit through wheel spokes, challenging stability at low speeds, the need for costly lock-in amplifier equipment and complex calibration procedures. The innovative, low-cost ROC simply eliminates all of these, outperforming traditional optical choppers.

                Drive electronics are paired with BMC’s MEMS Optical Modulator technology to create the ROC. The ROC provides beam chopping at impressive speeds without beam size modification. With a frequency range of DC to 150 kHz with better than 40 µs response time, control increments of .01 Hz and a contrast ratio exceeding 90% up to 100 kHz, the value of the ROC ‘speaks’ for itself. For signal-to-noise ratio improvement, the drive signal can be used as the sync signal, allowing it to be painlessly synchronized.

                Many industrial, scientific, medical, aerospace and military applications call for the need of reliable and advanced equipment. The ROC has superior capabilities such as high speed, large frequency range, reliability, stability and usefulness in SNR improvement applications. Basically, the Reflective Optical Chopper is an advance in optical chopping technology which is available at a low price.

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Improved Two Photon-Imaging Through Laser Pulse Compression with the Linear Array DM

Posted by Michael Feinberg on Fri, Dec 07, 2012 @ 08:05 AM
  
  
  
  
  

In our last blog post (Fast and Precise Laser Pulse Compression with the Linear Array DM) we discussed research being done in the Cui Lab at HHMI’s Janelia Farm Research Campus that used our Linear Array DM for laser pulse compression.  In part two we examine a two photon fluorescence microscopy project led by associate Reto Fiolka at Janelia Farm that illustrates the use of the Linear Array’s potential as a pulse compressor for imaging applications using the phase resolved interferometric spectral modulation (PRISM) optimization technique.

The Linear Array pulse compressor setup was used to restore the laser pulse to its transform limited state, thus improving the ability to excite fluorescence by two photon absorption. A sample consisting of 10 micron diameter fluorescence beads (emission: 465 nm) was prepared and spread on a cover-slip. The laser beam first propagated through the pulse compressor and was subsequently focused on the sample using a 20X NA 0.5 Nikon objective. A 2D image was obtained by translating a motorized sample stage. Without spectral pulse shaping, only a weak fluorescence signal could be obtained (See figures a and c). Since the objective adds significant additional dispersion to the laser pulse, the spectral phase correction that had been determined previously using the photodiode could not be used. Therefore PRISM optimization was repeated using the fluorescence signal coming from the beads itself as a feedback signal.

Janelia Farm’s results show a dramatic increase in fluorescence signal for the optimized spectral phase (see figures b and d). The signal strength was increased by a factor of ~6.5

twophoton microscopy resized 600

 

According to Fiolka, “The tested device represents a promising alternative to liquid crystal displays, since the MEMS technology enables high filling factor, high efficiency and operation speed, exceptional phase stability and accuracy and can be used over a very broad wavelength spectrum.”

We're very excited about these results and we are currently working with other groups interested in reproducing these results on tissue samples.  Thanks again to Dr. Fiolka and the Janelia Farm group for their efforts in improving two photon imaging techniques!!

More details can be found in our Linear Array white paper which includes an application overview of this exciting project.  You can also link to the research directly using the links to the Cui Lab and the scientific publication above.

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SPIE Mirror Tech Days: Highlights and Takeaways

Posted by Michael Feinberg on Wed, Sep 05, 2012 @ 01:11 PM
  
  
  
  
  

 

describe the imageThe SPIE Mirror Technology SBIR/STTR Workshop was held in Rochester, NY this year at the end of July. This is always a good conference for BMC, and we go every year.  The conference can best be summarized from their website:

Tech Days annually summarizes the USA Government's investment strategies and activities in developing technology for any application (such as telescopes, imaging systems, seeker/trackers, high-energy laser systems, solar energy, etc.) which requires optical components. Tech Days covers technology investment efforts in: optical materials; substrate design & manufacture; optical fabrication and metrology technology; optical coatings; wavefront sensing and control via adaptive optics; nano-technology imaging technologies; etc.

I highlighted the text for emphasis as to why we attend:  You can see why this is a great place for BMC to be. We get to present the latest progress on our NASA SBIRs (of which we have 4 ongoing), see some of the other great research that is going on in the field, and learn from the NASA Program Scientist what the future needs are for mirror technology.  Also this year, BMC was a sponsor/exhibitor.  This gave us a chance to set up a table displaying some mirrors and information about our products and technology. It was in a great spot at the conference where lunch, coffee breaks and the Tuesday night reception were held. While the conference was not as big as some other SPIE events (e.g. Photonics West and Optics and Photonics), it was a great opportunity to meet with some key people.

A couple of takeaways from the meeting were

(1)    NASA SBIR/STTR program is strong and growing. 

They are using the research funding they have for strategic programs that will help with technology development, which was called out in the decadal survey  as an, if not the, important push for the next ten years.

(2)    There is a continuing need for BMC mirror technology. 

There are a number of projects that will require the wavefront control that our DMs can provide.

Both of these items point to a rich future for BMC and the deformable mirror industry as a whole. We look forward to connecting with these folks again next year and for many years to come.

 

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