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Michael Feinberg

Recent Posts

Defense TechConnect Conference and Expo:  Fun in the Sun with the MRR

Posted by Michael Feinberg on Thu, Nov 01, 2018 @ 09:45 AM

Tags: modulating retroreflector, Defense TechConnect, free-space communication, Defense, boston micromachines

Last week I was fortunate enough to be able to parade BMC’s Modulating RetroReflector (MRR) in front of multiple audiences affiliated with the Defense community at the Defense TechConnect (DTC) Conference and Expo in Tampa, Florida. The goal: finding new partners with whom to further develop and deliver devices for next generation free space optical communications (FSOC) infrastructure.  The main benefit of our MRR is that it can enable FSOC in mobile applications that can’t have a big, bulky laser on-board to send an encoded beam in a point-to-point comm system or mesh network. (Figure 1).  Click here for more information on the technology.

image-6

Figure 1: MRR capability over traditional FSOC.

If you know anything about free space laser comm, this is a bit of a paradigm shift but being that the people at this conference were at the top of their fields within the military, they were quick to understand and the feedback was great.  Here’s how things went:

Shark Tank

Because Boston Micromachines received a Defense TechConnect 2018 Defense Innovation Award for the MRR, I had the opportunity to pitch our technology in front of a panel of experts who could recommend paths forward in order to further disseminate the technology into the field. (Figure 2).  Sharks and fish in Finding Nemo, PixarThese people ranged from officers in various branches of the military to local officials interested in the next technology that would eventually make its way to their budgets.The feedback from these individuals in the extremely short time I was in front of them (6 minutes of presentation and 4 minutes of Q&A) was very valuable and gave me a good feeling that the MRR technology was something that was of current interest. One or two of the members of the panel even suggested offices to contact as they knew there was a need for this specific type of technology.  Overall, a great experience.

 

Figure 2: Introducing the MRR in front of a panel of experts. Image from Finding Nemo (2003) [motion picture]. Pixar Animation Studios. USA.

Showcase

Boston Micromachines Corp. showcase at Defense TechConnect

For one evening, I set up a table and showed off our MRR devices with the hope of catching some people’s attention. (Figure 3).  Since the show was relatively small, if someone attended the showcase, they most definitely had an opportunity to stop by at some point.  Once again, the feedback was great. While the time was short (only 3 hours), the traffic was decent and the quality of the visitors was high.  Even more, some visitors had researched the tech beforehand and had come with prepared questions. I connected with prime contractors interested in bolstering their portfolio of options around free space laser comm as well as component manufacturers looking to expand their product applications.  So, a great event all around.

 

Figure 3: Showcase table at DTC.

One-on-One Meetings

Finally, we were able to schedule short one-on-one meetings with representatives from the research arms of various branches of the military.  While some representatives were not technical folks, most understood who would be most interested and committed to sending the information on to potential collaborators.  I was particularly impressed with a few of the representatives who were able to identify specific individuals with whom we had been in contact in the past after comparing notes on the spot.  This was a great benefit of this conference and gave me confidence that our time at the show was well spent.

Summary

Overall, I was extremely encouraged by this experience and would urge others with technologies with potential Defense applications to look into this show.  The MRR technology is pretty niche and connecting the right customers is often a challenge using traditional marketing techniques. I would suspect that if your technology’s application is very specific, you would find the same thing to be the case.  This is a non-traditional channel that offers great promise.

If you have any questions about my experience or would like to learn more about our MRR technology, feel free to contact BMC at moreinfo@bostonmicromachines.com.

SPIE Astro 2018. Exoplanets galore

Posted by Michael Feinberg on Thu, Jun 28, 2018 @ 08:30 AM

Tags: exoplanet, Robo-AO, astronomy, NASA, telescopes, SPIE, adaptive optics, deformable mirror

I attended the SPIE Astronomical Telescopes and Instrumentation event in Austin, Texas recently and while I enjoyed the music and incredible bar-b-que,  I thought it might be a good idea to summarize what I learned and the most interesting things mentioned about adaptive optics research.

Exoplanet research is alive and well

I am happy to say this.  We have been developing bigger and better mirrors for both ground-based and space-based telescopes here at BMC and they are targeted specifically for this use.

Here are the programs which I heard the most about last week:

MagAOX

Our 2K-DM will be shipping soon to the folks at the Magellan Telescope working on MagAOX, their planet-finding instrument. And, we have been discussing the design of gthe next generation instrument for the Giant Magellan Telescope, GMagAOX, which includes no less than seven 3K-DMs totaling over 21,000 actuators to be used for an order-of-magnitude higher level of control.  Logo Credit: Kyle Van Gorkom, University of Arizona

While I am sad to see the Gemini Planet Imager instrument mission end at the Gemini South Observatory (which includes our 4K-DM), I am excited for the next phase that is set to begin at Gemini North in Hawaii.  The location study is ongoing and will yield which components will get an upgrade.  While I am always excited about delivering a newer, better DM, I am proud of the performance of the 4K-DM and would be just as happy if that workhorse kept on running!

SCExAO just  keeps on going.  That is all.

SCExAO 2K DM

Seriously, though.  The expected science yield from this instrument is extremely exciting and I look forward to seeing more images in the near future!  Check out their site hereImage credit:  Olivier Guyon, University of Arizona

Finally, on the space-based front, Habex and LUVOIR designs are in motion and both are baselining BMC’s technology for the final design. Click the link here to see a recent article about AO and see a picture of the layout of our biggest mirror, the 8K-DM.  I have a quote 😊.

Don’t forget about all of the other science!

There is so much else going on and I couldn’t possibly list it all. Work at Lawrence Livermore National Labs is ongoing to develop an extremely low latency AO system called “LLAMAS.” Small(ish) telescopes are utilized as well to do some amazing data collection. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Robo-AO which is now in the process of moving from Kitt Peak to the UH88 telescope in Hawaii.  And, Robo-AO2, otherwise known and the Rapid Transit Surveyor, is in the midst of design and build and will be online soon.

Rapid Transit Surveyor

Rapid Transit Surveyor.  Image Credit:  Christoph Baranec

Final thoughts

The astronomical instrumentation field is alive and well and adaptive optics has become an integral part of almost all of the major installations in service, being built or being designed.  We are excited for the field and especially proud to be involved in the programs that required our high speed, high resolution devices to push science forward! 

The next generation 4Pi microscope is here.  And it has adaptive optics.

Posted by Michael Feinberg on Tue, Jul 19, 2016 @ 04:02 PM

Tags: microscopy, two photon, fluorescence, adaptive optics, biological imaging, deformable mirror

Recently, work has been going on at Yale W-4PiSMSN Whole Cell 4Pi single marker switching nanoscopy graphical abstractUniversity, the Gurdon Institute at Cambridge University and Purdue University with funding provided by the Wellcome Trust Research Programme to develop a high resolution widefield microscope capable of imaging entire cell structures at once. This group has published an article in the journal Cell which describes the W-4PiSMSN (Whole Cell - 4Pi single marker switching nanoscopy).  In this article they show the results of imaging the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), bacteriophages, mitochondria, nuclear pore complexes, primary cilia, Golgi-apparatus-associated COPI vesicles, and mouse spermatocyte synaptonemal complexes.  The instrument includes two Boston Micromachines Multi Deformable Mirrors which are used to optimize the optical wavefront due to aberrations in both the instrument and biological sample.  We're so excited about this incredible breakthrough and I am sure you will be too!!!!

The full article, images and videos can be found here:http://www.cell.com/cell/fulltext/S0092-8674(16)30745-0

 

 

Further focus at CLEO 2013

Posted by Michael Feinberg on Tue, Jul 09, 2013 @ 12:54 PM

Tags: deformable mirror, adaptive optics, boston micromachines, UAV, free-space communication, modulating retroreflector, pulse, pulse width, laser beam, CLEO, laser science, biological imaging, deep tissue microscopy, BMC, laser pulse shaping, ultrafast lasers, two photon, optical chopper, optical modulator, chopper, AOM, acousto-optic modulator, speed, shutter

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.

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

Posted by Michael Feinberg on Fri, Dec 07, 2012 @ 09:05 AM

Tags: boston micromachines, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Janelia Farm Research Campus, BMC, microscopy, two photon, fluorescence, laser pulse compression

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.

Fast and Precise Laser Pulse Compression with the Linear Array DM

Posted by Michael Feinberg on Wed, Nov 07, 2012 @ 10:33 AM

Tags: deformable mirror, adaptive optics, boston micromachines, laser science, Janelia Farm Research Campus, microscopy, laser pulse shaping, ultrafast lasers

Linear ArrayUltrafast lasers have been extensively used in ground breaking  research including two Nobel Prizes.  Applications within spectroscopy, photochemistry, laser processing and microscopy are widespread.  However, to capitalize on such short laser pulses, a pulse compressor is required to compensate for the dispersion induced by optical elements. Liquid crystal based spatial light modulators are most commonly used in laser pulse compressors.  Although a proven technology in display applications, liquid crystals have drawbacks including phase jitter and a limited fill factor.  Researchers at the Cui Lab at HHMI’s Janelia Farm Research Campus looked to Boston Micromachines Corporation’s prototype Linear Array Deformable Mirror (DM) to address these challenges.

To evaluate the performance of the pulse compressor, the laser pulses were analyzed with frequency resolved optical gating (FROG) using a commercial instrument (Grenouille, Swamp Optics, Atlanta, GA). In Figure a and b, the temporal and spectral profile of the pulse is shown when a flat wavefront is displayed on the DM. Evidently, the pulse is distorted and the spectral phase is not flat at all (a flat spectral phase is required for a transform limited pulse). Next, the beam returning from the pulse compressor was focused with a concave mirror onto a GaAsP photodiode and the resulting nonlinear signal was used as a feedback for the correction algorithm. After optimization using a technique called Phase resolved interferometric spectral modulation (PRISM), the temporal profile (Figure c) shows a dramatically shorter, Gaussian shaped pulse. The spectral phase is perfectly flat (Figure d) with less than 0.01 radians phase error and is stable in time. These results suggest that the precision and stability of the Linear Array DM allows close to perfect restoration of transform limited laser pulses.  For more information on the optimization technique, you can access a scientific publication here.

 

 pulse compression, FROG, pulse shaper

 

In our next blog post, we will discuss the results of the use of the Linear Array DM in an interesting two-photon microscopy experiment.

More details can be found in our Linear Array white paper which includes a more detailed description of this application.

What Do You REALLY Want in a Deformable Mirror?

Posted by Michael Feinberg on Wed, Oct 17, 2012 @ 04:00 PM

Tags: deformable mirror, adaptive optics, response time, astronomy, laser science, mirror technology, microscopy

This past summer, Boston Micromachines Corporation conducted a survey of nearly 300 members of the business and scientific community to find out what features were valued in a deformable mirror for adaptive optics and other wavefront correction applications.  Respondents came from our three major vertical markets: microscopy, deformable mirror survey resized 600astronomy and laser science.  In this survey, we asked some fundamental questions and had respondents choose between three DMs with properties varying in categories of actuator count, stroke, response time and price in various combinations. We were able to drill down to what each respondent valued.  Here are some of our key findings:

1)      Actuator count was the most valued property

Across all verticals, this was true.  Overall, respondents preferred an  average of 1000 actuators. While microscopists preferred 140 actuators by almost 2 to 1 over other models, those who identified as laser scientists were looking for an average of 1001 actuators and astronomers preferred, on average, 1800 actuators.

This was very interesting to us considering we are the only player in the market to provide deformable mirrors with these actuator counts as standard products or are developing DM systems which meet these specific needs (we have a 2000 element mirror in the works).

2)      High speed is important

The most frequently chosen option for response time amongst laser scientists was 50μs and all other disciplines preferred average response better than 300μs. This is great news for the industry considering that most mirror architectures can respond adequately to meet the needs of the users. Our DM architectures are available with response times up to 22μs and we are able to drive these mirrors with our X-Driver (response time down to 4μs), satisfying high speed requirements as well.

3)      Low price is desired

As we hear so often, most users were looking for low-priced devices. This was the second    preferred property after actuator count. While those of us in the industry talk about lower prices with higher volumes, the volumes just haven’t been there yet to make this prophecy come true.  The hope in the future is that the DMs based on scalable technologies, such as MEMS, will take off and lower-priced devices will be available.

We definitely learned a lot from this survey, above and beyond what is mentioned above.  If you have any questions about our methods or are interested in discussing more specifics about the responses, I would be glad to chat further.  Just contact me at support@bostonmicromachines.com.

 

Wavefront Sensorless Adaptive Optics Now a Reality

Posted by Michael Feinberg on Mon, Oct 01, 2012 @ 11:57 AM

Tags: deformable mirror, adaptive optics, boston micromachines, laser beam, laser science, mirror technology

WASO for blog

 

Up until recently nearly all adaptive optics (AO) systems used wavefront sensors for correction. But with recent advances, off-the-shelf wavefront sensorless AO is becoming a reality.  Benefits of this type of AO include enhanced aberration correction due to the elimination of non-common path errors and wavefront sensor noise.

BMC has developed a Wavefront Sensorless AO Demonstrator (WS-AOD) which provides a platform for utilizing metric-based wavefront control with BMC MEMS deformable mirror (DM) technology. While conventional AO systems perform closed-loop DM control using direct measurements of the wavefront as feedback, the metric-based approach uses details in the aberrated light to improve clarity. Two versions are available; one is optimized for beam shaping applications and the other is designed for imaging applications.

We see laser beam shaping as a key area in this exciting technology and our demonstrator is built to address the unique challenges of this field. Our WS-AOD serves as an introduction to wavefront sensorless adaptive optics principles. It allows users to understand the details involved in properly implementing a metric-based adaptive optics solution on an optical system. The demonstrator can also be used as a stand-alone aberration compensator. By introducing aberrations in the sample stage, the system can be optimized for a multitude of use cases from laser research applications to scanning laser microscopy. Additionally, the user can easily integrate the hardware into an existing optical system and utilize the open source software code for metric-based correction.

describe the image 

 

Schematic of WS-AOD for beam shaping applications. Also available for imaging applications.

To compensate for phase aberrations the WS-AOD uses BMC’s deformable mirror (DM) technology. BMC’s DM is a continuous facesheet deformable mirror that is controlled by hysteresis-free electrostatic actuators located on a square grid. The full DM activemulti DM aperture can be as little as 1.5 mm to as much as 25 mm across. Each actuator can provide up to 5.5 µm of mechanical stroke, which corresponds to about 11 µm of phase control. The electrostatic actuator array is driven using independent high voltage channels with 14-bit resolution. This corresponds to sub-nanometer displacement precision. The drive electronics can provide frame rates of from about 4.6 kHz up to 100 kHz.

The control software for WS-AOD allows the user to correct for aberrations introduced as well as generate a random aberration using the DM. The software is open source code based in Mathwork’s Matlab and runs on platforms using Windows operating systems. By utilizing the included algorithm to manipulate the mirror surface, the mirror compensates for aberrations and converges to an optimal profile. The user has access to the open source code to balance correction capability between maximum signal and minimal time.

To learn more please click here for a copy of our Wavefront Sensorless Adaptive Optics white paper.

SPIE Mirror Tech Days: Highlights and Takeaways

Posted by Michael Feinberg on Wed, Sep 05, 2012 @ 02:11 PM

Tags: deformable mirror, SPIE, mirror technology, BMC, imaging systems, telescopes, NASA, SBIR/STTR, Photonics West

 

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.

 

Dr. Meng Cui of HHMI Discusses Deep Tissue Microscopy Technique

Posted by Michael Feinberg on Wed, Aug 01, 2012 @ 02:39 PM

Tags: deformable mirror, adaptive optics, biological imaging, deep tissue microscopy, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Janelia Farm Research Campus

hhmi logo

Our customers are constantly making exciting scientific discoveries and we’re proud of the part our deformable mirrors play in their research. Dr. Meng Cui, Lab Head at Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Janelia Farm Research Campus recently presented the Iterative MultiphotonAdvanced in Biological Photnics Adaptive Compensation Technique (IMPACT) that his team has developed for deep tissue microscopy at a webinar on “Advances in Biomedical Photonics”.  In Dr. Cui’s presentation he discussed IMPACT which utilizes iterative feedback and the nonlinearity of two-photon signals to measure and compensate wavefront distortion introduced in tissue.  He gave details on the imaging results on a variety of biological tissue including brain tissue through mouse skull and labeled  T cells inside lymph nodes and compared his team's technique with conventional adaptive optics methods.   For more details on Dr. Cui’s research you can view the entire webinar which was presented by Photonics Media at http://www.photonics.com/Webinar.aspx?WebinarID=21.  Details of the research can be downloaded from the following site: http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2012/05/09/1119590109.full.pdf