(19)
(11)EP 2 524 259 B2

(12)NEW EUROPEAN PATENT SPECIFICATION
After opposition procedure

(45)Date of publication and mention of the opposition decision:
18.08.2021 Bulletin 2021/33

(45)Mention of the grant of the patent:
31.10.2018 Bulletin 2018/44

(21)Application number: 11704670.6

(22)Date of filing:  13.01.2011
(51)International Patent Classification (IPC): 
G02B 21/00(2006.01)
G01N 21/64(2006.01)
(86)International application number:
PCT/IB2011/050154
(87)International publication number:
WO 2011/086519 (21.07.2011 Gazette  2011/29)

(54)

A STIMULATED EMISSION DEPLETION (STED) MICROSCOPY SYSTEM

STED-MIKROSKOPIESYSTEM

SYSTÈME DE MICROSCOPIE À APPAUVRISSEMENT À ÉMISSION STIMULÉE (STED)


(84)Designated Contracting States:
AL AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MK MT NL NO PL PT RO RS SE SI SK SM TR

(30)Priority: 15.01.2010 US 295369 P

(43)Date of publication of application:
21.11.2012 Bulletin 2012/47

(73)Proprietor: Koninklijke Philips N.V.
5656 AG Eindhoven (NL)

(72)Inventors:
  • HENDRIKS, Bernardus, Hendrikus, Wilhelmus
    NL-5656 AE Eindhoven (NL)
  • 'T HOOFT, Gert
    NL-5656 AE Eindhoven (NL)
  • HORIKX, Jeroen, Jan, Lambertus
    NL-5656 AE Eindhoven (NL)

(74)Representative: Philips Intellectual Property & Standards 
High Tech Campus 5
5656 AE Eindhoven
5656 AE Eindhoven (NL)


(56)References cited: : 
WO-A1-2006/097063
DE-U1-202009 007 250
WO-A2-2008/145371
JP-A- 2003 167 198
  
  • REUSS M ET AL: "Birefringent device converts a standard scanning microscope into a STED microscope that also maps molecular orientation", OPTICS EXPRESS, OSA (OPTICAL SOCIETY OF AMERICA), WASHINGTON DC, (US), vol. 18, no. 2, 7 January 2010 (2010-01-07), pages 1049-1058, XP002592880, ISSN: 1094-4087, DOI: DOI:10.1364/OE.18.001049 [retrieved on 2010-01-07]
  • D. WILDANGER et al.: "A STED microscope aligned by design", OPTICS EXPRESS, vol. 17, no. 18, 31 August 2009 (2009-08-31), pages 16100-16110, DOI: doi.org/10.1364/OE.17.016100
  


Description

FIELD OF THE INVENTION



[0001] The present invention relates to an optical microscopy system for stimulated emission depletion (STED), and a corresponding method for performing microscopy with such a system. The invention also relates to a corresponding optical sub-unit, preferably forming part of an endoscope, a catheter or a needle, or similar devices, for medical imaging.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION



[0002] In stimulated emission depletion (STED) microscopy, the image resolution can be achieved well below the diffraction limit of conventional microscopy (see for instance figure 2 in B. Harke, J. Keller, C.K. Ullal, V. Westphal, A. Schönle and S.W. Hell, "Resolution scaling in STED microscopy", Optics Express 16 (2008) p. 4154-4162. In STED microscopy, a fluorescence marker is excited by a pulsed laser system. Shortly after this excitation i.e. within the decay time of the fluorescence a second laser pulse is applied having a wavelength close to the wavelength of the emission wavelength of the fluorescence. This second laser pulse has a donut shaped spot (or other similar shapes differing from the shape of the first pulse). Due to stimulated emission this second pulse will de-excite the fluorescence molecules within the donut shaped spot region. However the molecules within the center of the donut will not be de-excited. This center region is in general smaller than the diffraction limited spot size of the conventional microscope. Hence detecting the fluorescence coming from the remaining excited molecules after the two laser pulses originate from a region smaller than the diffraction limit, hence producing sub diffraction limited resolution of imaging. This has recently attracted some attention in this technical field.

[0003] To produce the two pulsed laser beams typically the optical setup shown in figure 1 of the above reference by Harke et al. is used. This causes severe constraints on the beam alignment in all three spatial dimensions, and typically re-alignment is periodically needed due to mechanical, thermal, and/or optical beam drift in the optical setup. Furthermore, the depletion beam requires different optical components in order to produce the donut shape spot. Similarly, the two laser beams puts a constraint on the possible downscaling of the optical STED microscopy, which is of paramount importance for in-vivo medical and biological imaging.

[0004] In connection with an optical fiber scanner, cf. for example international patent application WO 2009087527 by the present applicant, it may be mentioned that for such applications one generally prefers to have a common optical beam path for the excitation beam and the STED beam.

[0005] International patent application WO 2008/145371 discloses an optical assembly suitable for STED microscopy where the two light pulses have a common optical path. The depletion is provided by an optical component having two adjacent areas of different dispersion behavior causing an appropriate phase shift. The two areas can be for example a solid material and an oil, or two different solids in various configurations.

[0006] The inventors of the present invention have appreciated that an improved STED microscopy system is of benefit, and has in consequence devised the present invention.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION



[0007] It would be advantageous to achieve an improved microscopy system. It would also be desirable to enable a more compact and/or robust microscopy system. In general, the invention preferably seeks to mitigate, alleviate or eliminate one or more of the above mentioned disadvantages singly or in any combination. In particular, it may be seen as an object of the present invention to provide a method that solves the above mentioned problems, or other problems, of the prior art.

[0008] To better address one or more of these concerns, a first aspect of the invention relates to an optical microscopy system for stimulated emission depletion (STED) of an associated object, the system comprising:

radiation generating means capable of emitting a first and a second beam, the first beam being an excitation beam, the second beam being a depletion beam relative to the first beam,

an optical element for focusing the first and the second beam on the object, the optical element being arranged relative to the radiation generating means for defining a common optical path for both the first and the second beam, and

a phase modifying member inserted in said common optical path,

wherein the phase modifying member is optically arranged for leaving the wavefront of the first beam substantially unchanged, and for changing the wavefront of the second beam so as to create an undepleted region of interest in the object,
wherein the phase modifying member is capable of modifying the wavefront of the second beam by having a surface with a plurality of regions comprising a first and a second region, the first region having a protruded height which is above the height of the second region, and
wherein, the phase modifying member may have an azimuthal configuration, wherein each region, from said plurality of regions, is positioned within an azimuthal angle interval, and
wherein the second beam spot amplitude, U, at the focal plane of the focusing optical element, is approximately rotationally symmetric around the common optical path by requiring that the phase modifying member (5) approximately fulfills the equations:

,

where k denotes the segment number, Φk the segment phase, wk the segment size which equals the ending angle minus the starting angle of segment k.

[0009] The invention is particularly, but not exclusively, advantageous for obtaining a more compact and/or robust STED microscopy system, where the first excitation beam and the second depletion beam have a common optical path, as defined by the optical element focusing the beams, due to the phase modifying member adapting the wavefront or phase in such a way that it has no effect on the first beam, while on the second beam it gives rise to a wavefront, or phase change, resulting in a depleted region in the associated object (e.g. to the donut shaped spot) at the focal plane.

[0010] It should be noted that hitherto in this technical field, in order to provide, for example, a "donut" shaped beam, a phase plate has been used in one of the two pulsed laser beams of the STED setup. A drawback of this construction was that the phase plate must be in one of the beams and cannot be placed in the both beams together. Thus, when implementing the STED technique in to a miniature microscope, such as a fiber scanner, this restriction has previously limited the possible downscaling of the miniature microscope. In connection with an optical fiber scanner, cf. for example international patent application WO 2009087527 by the present applicant, it may be mentioned that for such applications the phase modifying member may be positioned between the fiber 2 and the objective lens 6a of Figure 4 in WO 2009087527.

[0011] It is to be understood that, in the context of the present invention, the phase modifying member has no, or substantially no, effect on the first excitation beam in the sense that from a practical point there will typically be a small wavefront or phase changes induced but this change has no, or at least insignificantly, consequences for the stimulated emission depletion image obtained. Below this will be more elaborately explained.

[0012] By having a protrusion, or a step, between the heights of the first and the second regions, it is possible to produce a phase modifying member in a relatively simple way, e.g. in a single material applying high precision manufacturing method to produce a step height with typically sub-micrometer precision. Needless to say, this may be generalized to more than two regions, i.e. three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, etc. regions, each region having a protrusion to match the overall technical purpose of the phase modifying member. This is possible by using techniques known from high precision lens manufacturing; cf. for example Japanese Journal of Applied Physics, Vol. 44, No. 9A, 2005, pp. 6564-6567, Miniaturised High-Numerical Aperture Singlet Plastic Objective for Optical Recording, by B. H. W. Hendriks et al. and Small Form Factor Optical Drive: Miniaturized Plastic High-NA Objective and Optical Drive, by M. A, H, van der Aa et al. in Proceedings from Joint International Symposium on Optical Memory and Optical Data Storage 2002, IEEE, p. 251-253. This is especially beneficially as compared to using two or more different optical material to produce the technical effect of the present invention which typically requires relative complicated matching/interfacing of optical, thermal, and mechanical parameters.

[0013] In an additional advantageous embodiment, the phase modifying member may be capable of leaving the wavefront of the first beam substantially unchanged by changing the phase of the first beam in modulus of 2 times pi (π). In that way, there is no need for matching for example the optical properties of two, or more, different materials.

[0014] A further advantage worth mentioning is the fact that for the phase modifying member, the required step heights are in general relatively small (of the order of a few microns) making the member relative easy from a manufacturing point of view. Furthermore, the width of the steps can be large relative to the step height. These properties of the stepped phase structure makes them relatively easy to manufacture with current lens making technology, cf. above cited references.

[0015] In the above-mentioned preferred embodiment, where the phase modifying member may be capable of modifying the wavefront of the second beam by having a surface with a plurality of regions comprising a first and a second region, the first region having a protruded height which is above the height of the second region, the surface may be the outer surface of the phase modifying member which enables simple manufacturing. Additionally or alternatively, the phase modifying member may be capable of leaving the wavefront of the first beam substantially unchanged by changing the phase of the first beam in modulus of 2 times pi (π). To increase simplicity and/or ease manufacturing, the plurality of regions of the surface of the phase modifying member may be manufactured in one optical material, preferably the entire phase modifying member may be manufactured in one optical material.

[0016] In an advantageous embodiment, at least said optical element and the phase modifying member is positioned in an endoscope, a catheter, or a needle for medical imaging, e.g. for in-vivo optical imaging where the requirements on miniaturization are particularly demanding.

[0017] As mentioned above, the phase modifying member has an azimuthal configuration, wherein each region, from said plurality of regions, is positioned within an azimuthal angle interval. It is preferred that the common optical path passes through a central, or substantially central, position of the phase member. Furthermore, the plurality of regions may have consecutively increasing heights at the surface of phase modifying member, e.g. discrete steps, 3, 4, 5 or more, along the azimuthal coordinate, cf. Figure 3 and the corresponding explanation below. In other variants, the plurality of regions may not have consecutively increasing heights at the surface of phase modifying member, but rather increasing and decreasing height along the azimuthal coordinate.

[0018] In a particular embodiment, the heights at the surface of phase modifying member may have a height distribution so that the modified phase of the second beam as function of the azimuthal angle, Φ(ϕ), is approximately equal to the azimuthal angle;



[0019] Strictly speaking, this can only be fulfilled for a continuous height distribution but for various height distributions this may be reasonable approximated. Alternatively, the condition may be approximated at an average angle of segments.

[0020] The second beam spot amplitude, U, at the focal plane of the focusing optical element, may be approximately zero at a central position of the optical path (r=0), by requiring that the phase modifying member approximately fulfills the equation:

where k denotes the segment number, Φk the segment phase, wk the segment size which equals the ending angle minus the starting angle of segment k. As an alternative to the so-called "donut" configuration, this equation encompasses a range of other optical configurations of the modifying member fulfilling the essential STED requirement.

[0021] The two equations:



define design rules for the skilled person that enables many different optical embodiments of the phase modifying member according to the present invention.

[0022] In a quite different embodiment, the first and second regions of the phase modifying member may be rotationally symmetric around the common optical path. This enables other simple and advantageous embodiments of the present invention, see Figure 10 and the corresponding description below.

[0023] In a second aspect, the present invention relates to
a optical sub-unit arranged for optical imaging of an associated object using stimulated emission depletion (STED) in an associated optical microscopy system, the associated optical microscopy system comprises radiation generating means capable of emitting a first and a second beam, the first beam being an excitation beam, the second beam being a depletion beam relative to the first beam, the optical sub-unit comprising:

optical guiding means for guiding the first and the second beam through the sub-unit,

an optical element for focusing the first and the second beam on the object, the optical element being arranged relative to the radiation generating means for defining a common optical path for both the first and the second beam, and

a phase modifying member inserted in said common optical path,

wherein the phase modifying member is optically arranged for leaving the phase of the first beam substantially unchanged, and for changing the phase of the second beam so as to create an undepleted region of interest in the object,
wherein the phase modifying member is capable of modifying the phase of the second beam by having a surface with a plurality of regions comprising a first and a second region, the first region having a protruded height which is above the height of the second region, the phase modifying member capable of modifying the phase of the second beam wherein the phase modifying member has an azimuthal configuration, wherein each region, from said plurality of regions, is positioned within an azimuthal angle interval, and
wherein the second beam spot amplitude, U, at the focal plane of the focusing optical element, is approximately rotationally symmetric around the common optical path by requiring that the phase modifying member approximately fulfills the equations:



where k denotes the segment number, Φk the segment phase, wk the segment size which equals the ending angle minus the starting angle of segment k.

[0024] Preferably, the optical sub-unit may be arranged for optical imaging of an associated object using stimulated emission depletion (STED) in an associated optical microscopy system according to the first aspect, wherein the optical sub-unit forms part of an endoscope, a catheter, a needle or a biopsy needle for medical imaging. Other kind of imaging devices is also envisioned within the teaching and general principle of the present invention, non-medical included. In the medical field, this is particular advantageous because there this kind of devices are typically disposed after a single use due to sanitary regulations, and the relative simple manufacturing of these medical devices according to the present invention facilitate the more widespread use and application of the advantageous medical devices.

[0025] In a third aspect, the present invention relates to a method for performing optical microscopy with stimulated emission depletion (STED) of an object, the method comprising:

emitting radiation comprising a first and a second beam, the first beam being an excitation beam, the second beam being a depletion beam relative to the first beam,

focusing the first and the second beam on the object using an optical element, the optical element defining a common optical path for both the first and the second beam, and

providing a phase modifying member in said common optical path,

wherein the phase modifying member is optically arranged for leaving the phase of the first beam substantially unchanged, and for changing the phase of the second beam so as to create an undepleted region of interest in the object,
wherein the phase modifying member is capable of modifying the phase of the second beam by having a surface with a plurality of regions comprising a first and a second region, the first region having a protruded height which is above the height of the second region, the phase modifying member capable of modifying the phase of the second beam wherein the phase modifying member has an azimuthal configuration, wherein each region, from said plurality of regions, is positioned within an azimuthal angle interval, and
wherein the second beam spot amplitude, U, at the focal plane of the focusing optical element, is approximately rotationally symmetric around the common optical path by requiring that the phase modifying member approximately fulfills the equations:



where k denotes the segment number, Φk the segment phase, wk the segment size which equals the ending angle minus the starting angle of segment k.

[0026] In general the various aspects of the invention may be combined and coupled in any way possible within the scope of the invention. These and other aspects, features and/or advantages of the invention will be apparent from and elucidated with reference to the embodiments described hereinafter.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS



[0027] Embodiments of the invention will be described, by way of example only, with reference to the drawings, in which

FIG. 1 is a schematic drawing of the optical microscopy STED system according to the present invention,

FIG. 2 is a schematic illustration of the wavefronts of the first and second beams according to the present invention,

FIG. 3 is more detailed schematic illustration from different views of the phase modifying member with an azimuthal configuration according to the present invention,

FIG. 4-6 show 3 sets of graphs showing corresponding phase versus angle (to the left), and the resulting spot distribution in the focal plane versus scaled radial distance (to the right),

FIG. 7 and 8 show two-dimensional intensity distributions of the spots created by the phase modifying member of Tables 2-4, and the intensity profiles of ideal phase modifying member with equal-size segments, respectively,

FIG. 9 shows the two-dimensional intensity distributions of the spot created by the phase modifying member with 7 segments,

FIG. 10 shows an embodiment of a stepped phase modifying member with a circular configuration according to another embodiment of the present invention,

FIG. 11 shows an optical sub-unit according to the present invention, and

FIG. 12 is a flow chart of a method according to the present invention.


DESCRIPTION OF EMBODIMENTS



[0028] FIG. 1 is a schematic drawing of the optical microscopy STED system 10 according to the present invention. The optical microscopy system 10 is adapted for stimulated emission depletion (STED) imaging of an associated object O (not forming part of the optical system itself), cf. Harke, J. Keller, C.K. Ullal, V. Westphal, A. Schönle and S.W. Hell, "Resolution scaling in STED microscopy", Optics Express 16 (2008) p. 4154-4162 for further technical details on the STED method.

[0029] The optical system 10 comprises radiation generating means 7, e.g. two or more pulsed lasers or a single tunable laser or other suitable radiation generators, capable of emitting at least a first 1 and a second 2 beam. The first beam 1 is an excitation beam, e.g. for fluorescence imaging of the object, the second beam 2 being a depletion beam relative to the first beam 1, typically with red-shifted energy i.e. lower energy, for causing a depletion in a zone in the object O.

[0030] Additionally, an optical element 6, e.g. a lens or other components having non-zero optical power, is provided for focusing the first 1 and the second 2 beam on the object O. The optical element is arranged relative to the radiation generating means 7 for defining a common optical path OP for both the first 1 and the second 2 beam. In FIG. 1, the first 1 and the second 2 beams are shifted vertically merely for reasons of clarity in the figure, the spatial overlap typically being maximized in actual implementations as far as possible for utilizing the beams.

[0031] Furthermore, a phase modifying member 5 is inserted in said common optical path OP, the phase modifying member 5 being optically arranged for leaving the wavefront of the first beam 1 substantially unchanged, and for changing the wavefront of the second beam 2 so as to create an undepleted region of interest in the object O. Equivalently, it may be said that the phase modifying member 5 is optically arranged for changing the phase of the first beam with an integer times 2 pi (π), i.e. effectively leaving the phase unchanged, and also for changing the phase of the second beam differently from an integer times 2 pi so as to create an undepleted region of interest in the object. This facilitates the use of a single beam path, i.e. along the common optical path, in connection with STED microscopy providing numerous advantages, in particular easier use and/or more compact optical design.

[0032] It is contemplated that the phase modifying member 5 and the optical element 6 may be combined into a single entity (not shown) having similar, or equivalent, functionalities as the two separate entities.

[0033] FIG. 2 is a schematic illustration of the wavefronts of the first 1 and second 2 beams according to the present invention along the optical path OP, where the two beams are shown to two different times; at time = A "EXCIT", the first excitation beam 1 is shown passing through the phase modifying member 5 and the wavefronts are unchanged, or equivalently, there is no optical aberration of the first beam. It should be noted that this is typically highly dependent on the wavelength of the first beam 1.

[0034] Subsequently, at time = B "STED ", the wavefronts of the second depletion beam 2 are shown passing through the phase modifying member 5, with the result that the wavefronts 2' are changed, schematically indicated by the breaks in the wavefronts 2'. The changing the wavefront of the second beam 2 should be dimensioned to create an undepleted region of interest ROI in the object O. This will be explained in more details below.

[0035] To the right in FIG. 2, the corresponding focal planes FP are shown for the different times, at time = A "EXCIT, a circle is illuminated with radiation capable of causing e.g. fluorescence in the object O. At time = B "STED", the modified depletion beam 2' causes a depletion in a circumferential region; schematically indicated with black around the circular undepleted area in FIG 2. At a later time = C "ROI", fluorescence will only, or primarily depending on the degree of depletion, originate from the central region of interest ROI, which may have a spatial extension (e.g. diameter of the circle) below the wavelength of the fluorescence emitted, i.e. below the diffraction limit.

[0036] FIG. 3 is more detailed schematic illustration from different views of the phase modifying member 5 with an azimuthal configuration according to the present invention. By azimuthal configuration is meant a configuration that may reasonably be represented or approximated by a configuration described by conventional cylindrical coordinates around a central axis i.e. the common optical path OP. The member 5 shown in FIG. 3 comprises three regions or azimuthal segments 31, 32, and 33, where the phase modifying member 5 is capable of modifying the wavefront of the second beam 2 by having a surface with a plurality of regions comprising at least a first 31, a second 32 and a third 33 region, the second region 32 having a protruded height h which is above the height of the first region 31, and further the third region or segment 33 has a height above the second region 32. This is illustrated in the graph below the member 5 showing the height h versus the azimuthal angle, ϕ.

[0037] It should be mentioned that the surface of the member 5 may be interfaced with another optical material or medium, e.g. glass, polymer, or air, so that the effective wavefront change should take this into account when designing the phase modifying member. Typically, it will for reason of simplicity in the manufacturing process be a member 5 made in a single material, e.g. polymer like PMMA, polycarbonate, COC, curable resins like diacryl. Thus, the different heights of the different regions could be on the outer surface of the member 5, as also illustrated in FIG. 3.

[0038] FIG. 4-6 show 3 sets of graphs showing corresponding phase versus angle (to the left), and the resulting spot distribution in the focal plane versus scaled radial distance (to the right) for a specific example.

[0039] Let the phase modifying member 5 be made of PMMA. At the excitation wavelength 635 nm, the refractive index of PMMA is 1.490, while at the depletion wavelength 735 nm, it is 1.487. Let the phase plate introduce a phase Φ(ϕ) to the wavefront. Let the numerical aperture NA of the depletion beam be NA=0.6. The STED spot amplitude at the focal plane is given by

with k = 2π/λ (see Born and Wolf, "Principles of Optics", Seventh Edition, Pergamon Press, chapter 9) using cylindrical coordinates at the focal plane; (r,ψ), and under the integration (p, ϕ), ρ being dimensionsless. In case, one approximates the phase with the azimuthal angle under the integration

one obtains



[0040] Define the step height in such a way that at 635 nm the step introduces a phase of 2π, yielding

where λ is the wavelength of 635 nm, n is the refractive index of the material where the steps are made of and ns is the refractive index of the surrounding medium. Here we assume that the surrounding medium is air hence ns=1.

[0041] In this specific example one then finds hex=1.2959 micron. These steps do therefore not influence the excitation beam.

[0042] At 735nm this step does no longer produce phase step of 2π, but a phase equal to 0.8587*2π. In Table 1 the phase introduced at 735 nm wavelength for the various step heights is listed.
Table 1: List of various step heights producing a phase of a multiple of 2π at 635 nm wavelength and the corresponding phase introduced at 735 nm wavelength.
nHeight (micron)(Phase mod 2pi)/2pi @735nm
1 1.2959 0.8587
2 2.5918 0.7173
3 3.8877 0.5760
4 5.1836 0.4347
5 6.4795 0.2933
6 7.7754 0.1520
7 9.0713 0.0107


[0043] To produce a donut shaped spot distribution at the focal plane FP, the phase produced by the phase modifying member 5, or "phase plate", could be equal to Φ(ϕ) = ϕ with the angle expressed in radians.

[0044] In order to have no effect at the excitation beam, one may approximate this distribution by a stepped distribution. In Table 2, Table 3, and Table 4, lists of the various steps making up examples of phase modifying member 5 with three, four and five equalsized segments are shown. In FIG. 4-6 cross-sections through the corresponding spot distributions in the focal plane for the depletion beam 2' are plotted. This figure shows that indeed the phase modifying member 5 introduces spot distributions with a dip or minima in the center. The optimal result in this case is for the five stepped phase modifying member 5 because in this case the value of the intensity at r=0 is the lowest. Again for the excitation beam 1, the phase modifying member 5 has no, or very little, effect.
Table 2: List of the various steps and the phase introduced by the steps for the depletion beam in case of a three stepped phase plate.
jΦbegin/2πΦeind/2πmhj [micron]Φstep/2π (mod 1)
1 0 0.333 6 7.7754 0.1520
2 0.333 0.666 3 3.8877 0.5760
3 0.666 1.0 1 1.2959 0.8587
Table 3: List of the various steps and the phase introduced by the steps for the depletion beam in case of a four stepped phase plate.
jΦ begin/2πΦeind/2πmhj [micron]Φstep/2π (mod 1)
1 0 0.25 0 0 0
2 0.25 0.50 5 7.7754 0.2933
3 0.50 0.75 3 3.8877 0.5760
4 0.75 1.0 1 1.2959 0.8587
Table 4: List of the various steps and the phase introduced by the steps for the depletion beam in case of a five stepped phase plate.
jΦbegin/2πΦeind/2πmhj [micron]Φstep/2π (mod 1)
1 0 0.2 6 7.7754 0.1520
2 0.2 0.4 5 7.7754 0.2933
3 0.4 0.6 3 3.8877 0.5760
4 0.6 0.8 2 2.5918 0.7173
5 0.8 1.0 1 1.2959 0.8587


[0045] FIG. 7 and 8 show two-dimensional intensity distributions of the spots created by the phase modifying member of Tables 2-4, and the intensity profiles of ideal phase modifying member with equal-size segments, respectively.

[0046] FIG. 7 shows the two-dimensional intensity distributions of the spots created by the phase plates of Tables 2-4. Clearly, the intensity profiles are far from rotationally symmetric. The two-dimensional intensity distributions of the spots created by the phase plates of Table 2 (left), Table 3 (center) and Table 4 (right). The x- and y-axes have a range of [-2λ, 2λ].

[0047] For comparison, FIG. 8 shows the intensity profiles of ideal phase plates with equal-size segments. The spot intensity profiles of ideal phase plates with (from left to right) 3, 4 and 5 equal-size segments, are shown with phases not limited to the values of Table 1 but having their ideal values. The resulting spots show the expected 3-, 4- and 5-fold symmetry. Clearly, the 4-segment and 5-segment phase plates are to be preferred over the 3-segment phase plate, as the latter deviates most from full rotational symmetry and cannot provide uniform depletion of the fluorescence.

[0048] The spot shapes created by phase plates that have phase values limited to those in Table 1 can be improved when the segments are allowed to be of not all the same size. The additional degrees of freedom thus created can be used to make the spot more rotationally symmetric. It will now be shown how design criteria for phase plates can be derived from the so-called diffraction integral, Eq. (2). The integration over the radius in Eq. (2) can be performed analytically, yielding

where



[0049] The right-hand side of Eq. (6) can be expanded in powers of a and NA, giving



[0050] Inserting Eqs. (6-8) back into Eq. (2), and using

one arrives at



[0051] The integrals over ϕ occurring in Eq. (10) can be performed analytically when the integration range is subdivided over the segments, as Φ(ϕ) is constant over each segment, giving sums over the segments as result:

where k denotes the segment number, Φk the segment phase (chosen from Table 1), wk the segment size (i.e. ending angle minus starting angle of segment k) and ϕk the average segment angle (i.e. the average of starting angle and ending angle). In deriving Eq. (11), the well-known relations for differences of sines and cosines were used:

Upon inspecting Eq. (11), one notices that if one wants to have zero intensity on the optical axis (r=0), the first term on the right-hand side should be zero:



[0052] Furthermore, to have an intensity profile of the depleting beam in the vicinity of the optical axis which is as rotationally symmetric as possible, one would like the intensity |U(r,ψ)|2 to become independent of ψ. This will be achieved when the ratio of the factors occurring with cosψ and sinψ in Eq. (11) is as follows:

This can be understood by considering the following relation:

(A, B complex). Eq. (15) becomes independent of ψ when B/Ai, in which case one has |B/A|2=1 and Re(B/A)=0. In Eq. (15), A and B stand for the factors occurring with cosψ and sinψ in Eq. (11), which form the denominator and numerator in Eq. (14). Using this, an alternative but equivalent formulation of Eq. (14) in terms of factors proportional to the intensity variation with ψ is



[0053] In summary, Eqs (13) and (14') provide design rules for the phase modifying members or phase plates 5: given a set of phases Φk, the starting and ending angles of the segments must be chosen such that Eqs. (13) and (14') are fulfilled as well as possible. Alternatively, these design rules can also be used to select phases Φk from a set of possible phases if the segment sizes are in some way predetermined: those phases should be chosen which fulfill Eqs. (13) and (14') as well as possible.

[0054] In principle, further design rules can be created by expanding Eq. (8) to higher order in a and repeating the above derivation including these higher orders.

[0055] An example of a spot created by a 7-segment phase modifying member 5 designed using Eqs. (13) and (14') is shown in FIG 9. Note the near-perfect rotational symmetry near the center of the spot. The parameters of the phase plate design are listed in Table 5.
Table 5: List of the various steps and the phase introduced by the steps for the depletion beam in case of a seven stepped phase plate.
jΦbegin/2πΦeind/2πmhj [micron]Φstep/2π (mod 1)
1 0 0.1551 0 0 0
2 0.1551 0.2907 6 7.7754 0.1520
3 0.2907 0.4413 5 6.4795 0.2933
4 0.4413 0.5738 4 5.1836 0.4347
5 0.5738 0.7184 3 3.8877 0.5760
6 0.7184 0.8652 2 2.5918 0.7173
7 0.8652 1.0 1 1.2959 0.8587


[0056] Fluorescence light captured by the optical element 6 (functioning also as collecting objective) has to pass through the phase plate 5 before it is captured by the fiber end. This will have a donut shape too. To avoid problems with the detection one may employ alternative methods like detecting the light back through the cladding of the fiber, e.g. as described in OPTICS EXPRESS 5528, July 2005, Vol. 13, No. 14, Nonlinear optical microscopy based on double-clad photonic crystal fibers by Ling Fu et al.

[0057] FIG. 10 shows an embodiment of a stepped phase modifying member with a circular configuration according to another embodiment of the present invention. Another way to produce a hollow spot is by using a stepped phase plate as shown in Figure 7. Let the step occur at a fraction of b of the radius of the entrance pupil. Furthermore, let the intensity of the distribution be isotropic and the phase introduced by the step be Q. The amplitude distribution at the focal plane is then given by



[0058] When for instance Q=π and

the intensity distribution will be zero at r=0. In a similar way as above we can now choose the step to have a height of 5.1836 micron (n=4) producing a phase step of 0.4347 times 2π for depletion beam and has no effect on the excitation beam. Since the phase step is close to π for the depletion beam the spot will have a substantially donut shape.

[0059] In addition to the azimuthally stepped phase plate embodiment of Fig. 3 and the rotationally symmetric radially stepped embodiment of Fig. 10, embodiments that are stepped in both azimuthal and radial directions may be used within the teaching and general principle of the present invention, such as, but not limited to, combinations of a radial step as in Fig. 10 with a ring of azimuthal steps, or an azimuthally stepped phase plate where some, or all, of the segments are subdivided in the radial direction (possibly with boundary radii different per segment) so as to optimize the spot profile.

[0060] FIG. 11 shows an optical sub-unit 100 arranged for optical imaging of an object O using stimulated emission depletion (STED) in an optical microscopy system 10, having radiation generating means 7 capable of emitting a first 1 and a second 2 beam according to the invention (beams not shown in FIG. 11), the means 7 being optically connected to the sub-unit 100 as schematically indicated by the double-arrow. The optical sub-unit 100 comprises optical guiding means 110, e.g. an optical fiber or other suitable optical elements, for guiding the first and the second beam through the sub-unit, the sub-unit further comprises:

the optical element 6 for focusing the first and the second beam on the object O, the optical element being arranged relative to the radiation generating means for defining a common optical path for both the first and the second beam, and

the phase modifying member 5 inserted in the common optical path,



[0061] The optical sub-unit 100, or elements thereof, may constitutes part of an endoscope, a catheter, or a needle, or a biopsy needle for medical imaging, e.g. for in-vivo optical imaging and diagnostics.

[0062] FIG. 12 is a flow chart of a method according to the present invention, the method comprising the steps of:

S1 emitting radiation comprising a first 1 and a second 2 beam, the first beam being an excitation beam, the second beam being a depletion beam relative to the first beam,

S2 focusing the first and the second beam on the object using an optical element 6, the optical element defining a common optical path OP for both the first and the second beam, and

S3 providing a phase modifying member 5 in said common optical path, wherein the phase modifying member 5 is optically arranged for leaving the wavefront of the first beam substantially unchanged, and for changing the wavefront of the second beam 2' so as to create an undepleted region of interest in the object.



[0063] While the invention has been illustrated and described in detail in the drawings and foregoing description, such illustration and description are to be considered illustrative or exemplary and not restrictive; the invention is not limited to the disclosed embodiments. Other variations to the disclosed embodiments can be understood and effected by those skilled in the art in practicing the claimed invention, from a study of the drawings, the disclosure, and the appended claims. In the claims, the word "comprising" does not exclude other elements or steps, and the indefinite article "a" or "an" does not exclude a plurality. A single processor or other unit may fulfill the functions of several items recited in the claims. The mere fact that certain measures are recited in mutually different dependent claims does not indicate that a combination of these measured cannot be used to advantage. A computer program may be stored/distributed on a suitable medium, such as an optical storage medium or a solid-state medium supplied together with or as part of other hardware, but may also be distributed in other forms, such as via the Internet or other wired or wireless telecommunication systems. Any reference signs in the claims should not be construed as limiting the scope.


Claims

1. An optical microscopy system (10) for stimulated emission depletion (STED) of an associated object (O), the system comprising:

radiation generating means (7) capable of emitting a first (1) and a second (2) beam, the first beam being an excitation beam, the second beam being a depletion beam relative to the first beam,

an optical element (6) for focusing the first and the second beam on the object, the optical element being arranged relative to the radiation generating means for defining a common optical path (OP) for both the first and the second beam, and

a phase modifying member (5) inserted in said common optical path (OP),

wherein the phase modifying member is optically arranged for leaving the phase of the first beam substantially unchanged, and for changing the phase of the second beam (2') so as to create an undepleted region of interest (ROI) in the object,
wherein the phase modifying member (5) is capable of modifying the phase of the second beam (2) by having a surface with a plurality of regions comprising a first and a second region (31, 32, 33), the first region having a protruded height which is above the height of the second region, the phase modifying member (5) capable of modifying the phase of the second beam (2'),
wherein the phase modifying member (5) has an azimuthal configuration (31, 32, 33), wherein each region, from said plurality of regions, is positioned within an azimuthal angle interval, and
wherein the second beam spot amplitude, U, at the focal plane of the focusing optical element, is approximately rotationally symmetric around the common optical path by requiring that the phase modifying member (5) approximately fulfills the equations:



where k denotes the segment number, Φk the segment phase, wk the segment size which equals the ending angle minus the starting angle of segment k.
 
2. The system according to claim 1, where the phase modifying member (5) is capable of leaving the phase of the first beam (1) substantially unchanged by changing the phase of the first beam in modulus of 2 times pi (π).
 
3. The system according to claim 1, wherein at least said optical element (6) and the phase modifying member (5) is positioned in an endoscope, a catheter, a needle or a biopsy needle for medical imaging.
 
4. The system according to claim 1, wherein the plurality of regions have consecutively increasing heights at the surface of phase modifying member (5).
 
5. The system according to claim 1, wherein the heights at the surface of phase modifying member (5) has a height distribution so that the modified phase of the second beam as function of the azimuthal angle, Φ(ϕ), is approximately equal to the azimuthal angle;


 
6. The system according to claim 1, wherein the second beam spot amplitude, U, at the focal plane of the focusing optical element, is approximately zero at a central position of the optical path (r=0), by requiring that the phase modifying member (5) approximately fulfills the equation:

where k denotes the segment number, Φk the segment phase, wk the segment size which equals the ending angle minus the starting angle of segment k.
 
7. An optical sub-unit (100) arranged for optical imaging of an associated object using stimulated emission depletion (STED) in an associated optical microscopy system, the associated optical microscopy system comprises radiation generating means (7) capable of emitting a first (1) and a second (2) beam, the first beam being an excitation beam, the second beam being a depletion beam relative to the first beam, the optical sub-unit comprising:

optical guiding means (110) for guiding the first and the second beam through the sub-unit,

an optical element (6) for focusing the first and the second beam on the object, the optical element being arranged relative to the radiation generating means for defining a common optical path for both the first and the second beam, and

a phase modifying member (5) inserted in said common optical path,

wherein the phase modifying member is optically arranged for leaving the phase of the first beam (1) substantially unchanged, and for changing the phase of the second beam (2') so as to create an undepleted region of interest in the object,
wherein the phase modifying member (5) is capable of modifying the phase of the second beam (2) by having a surface with a plurality of regions comprising a first and a second region (31, 32, 33), the first region having a protruded height which is above the height of the second region, the phase modifying member (5) capable of modifying the phase of the second beam (2')
wherein the phase modifying member (5) has an azimuthal configuration (31, 32, 33), wherein each region, from said plurality of regions, is positioned within an azimuthal angle interval, and
wherein the second beam spot amplitude, U, at the focal plane of the focusing optical element, is approximately rotationally symmetric around the common optical path by requiring that the phase modifying member (5) approximately fulfills the equations:



where k denotes the segment number, Φk the segment phase, wk the segment size which equals the ending angle minus the starting angle of segment k.
 
8. The optical sub-unit (100) arranged for optical imaging of an associated object using stimulated emission depletion (STED) in an associated optical microscopy system according to claim 7 wherein the optical sub-unit forms part of an endoscope, a catheter, a needle or a biopsy needle for medical imaging.
 
9. A method for performing optical microscopy with stimulated emission depletion (STED) of an object, the method comprising:

emitting radiation comprising a first (1) and a second (2) beam, the first beam being an excitation beam, the second beam being a depletion beam relative to the first beam,

focusing the first and the second beam on the object using an optical element (6), the optical element defining a common optical path (OP) for both the first and the second beam, and

providing a phase modifying member (5) in said common optical path,

wherein the phase modifying member is optically arranged for leaving the phase of the first beam substantially unchanged, and for changing the phase of the second beam so as to create an undepleted region of interest in the object,
wherein the phase modifying member (5) is capable of modifying the phase of the second beam (2) by having a surface with a plurality of regions comprising a first and a second region (31, 32, 33), the first region having a protruded height which is above the height of the second region, the phase modifying member (5) capable of modifying the phase of the second beam (2')
wherein the phase modifying member (5) has an azimuthal configuration (31, 32, 33), wherein each region, from said plurality of regions, is positioned within an azimuthal angle interval, and
wherein the second beam spot amplitude, U, at the focal plane of the focusing optical element, is approximately rotationally symmetric around the common optical path by requiring that the phase modifying member (5) approximately fulfills the equations:



where k denotes the segment number, Φk the segment phase, wk the segment size which equals the ending angle minus the starting angle of segment k.
 
10. The system of claim 1 or the optical sub-unit of claim 7 or the method of claim 9 wherein the plurality of regions of the surface of the phase modifying member (5) is manufactured in one optical material.
 


Ansprüche

1. Ein Lichtmikroskopiesystem (10) für die Stimulated Emission Depletion (STED) eines zugehörigen Objekts (O), wobei das System Folgendes umfasst:

Strahlungserzeugungsvorrichtung (7), die einen ersten (1) und einen zweiten (2) Strahl emittieren kann, wobei es sich beim ersten Strahl um einen Anregungsstrahl und beim zweiten Strahl um einen Abregungsstrahl relativ zum ersten Strahl handelt,

ein optisches Element (6) zum Fokussieren des ersten und des zweiten Strahls auf das Objekt, wobei das optische Element relativ zur Strahlungserzeugungsvorrichtung angeordnet ist, um einen gemeinsamen optischen Pfad (OP) für den ersten und den zweiten Strahl zu definieren, und

ein Phasenmodifizierungselement (5), das sich im gemeinsamen optischen Pfad (OP) befindet, wobei das Phasenmodifizierungselement optisch so angeordnet ist, dass es die Phase des ersten Strahls im Wesentlichen unverändert lässt und die Phase des zweiten Strahls (2') so verändert, dass im Objekt eine nicht abgeregte zu untersuchende Region (ROI) erzeugt wird, wobei das Phasenmodifizierungselement (5) die Phase des zweiten Strahls (2) modifizieren kann, da es über eine Oberfläche mit mehreren Regionen verfügt, die eine erste und eine zweite Region (31, 32, 33) umfasst, wobei die erste Region eine hervorstehende Höhe aufweist, die über die Höhe der zweiten Region hinausragt, wobei das Phasenmodifizierungselement (5) die Phase des zweiten Strahls (2') modifiziert,

wobei das Phasenmodifizierungselement (5) über eine Azimutalkonfiguration (31, 32, 33) verfügt, wobei die einzelnen Regionen der mehreren Regionen innerhalb eines azimutalen Winkelintervalls positioniert sind, und

wobei die zweite Lichtfleckamplitude U in der Brennebene des fokussierenden optischen Elements annähernd rotationssymmetrisch zum gemeinsamen optischen Pfad verläuft, da das Phasenmodifizierungselement (5) annähernd folgende Gleichungen erfüllen muss:



wobei k der Segmentnummer, Φk der Segmentphase und wk der Segmentgröße entspricht, die dem Endwinkel abzüglich des Startwinkels des Segments k entspricht.


 
2. Das System gemäß Anspruch 1, wobei das Phasenmodifizierungselement (5) die Phase des ersten Strahls (1) im Wesentlichen unverändert belässt, indem es die Phase des ersten Strahls in einem Modul von 2 mal pi (n) verändert.
 
3. Das System gemäß Anspruch 1, wobei sich mindestens das optische Element (6) und das Phasenmodifizierungselement (5) in einem Endoskop, einem Katheter, einer Nadel oder einer Biopsienadel für die medizinische Bildgebung befinden.
 
4. Das System gemäß Anspruch 1, wobei die mehreren Regionen auf der Oberfläche des Phasenmodifizierungselements (5) eine jeweils fortlaufend größere Höhe aufweisen.
 
5. Das System gemäß Anspruch 1, wobei die Höhen auf der Oberfläche des Phasenmodifizierungselements (5) eine Höhenverteilung aufweisen, bei der die modifizierte Phase des zweiten Strahls als Funktion des azimutalen Winkels Φ(ϕ) ungefähr dem azimutalen Winkel entspricht;
Φ(ϕ)=ϕ für ϕ∈ [0,2 n)
 
6. Das System gemäß Anspruch 1, wobei die zweite Lichtfleckamplitude U in der Brennebene des fokussierenden optischen Elements an der zentralen Position des optischen Pfads (r=0) annähernd Null beträgt, da das Phasenmodifizierungselement (5) annähernd folgende Gleichungen erfüllen muss:

wobei k der Segmentnummer, Φk der Segmentphase und wk der Segmentgröße entspricht, die dem Endwinkel abzüglich des Startwinkels des Segments k entspricht.
 
7. Eine optische Untereinheit (100), die für die optische Bildgebung eines zugehörigen Objekts mithilfe von Stimulated Emission Depletion (STED) im zugehörigen Lichtmikroskopiesystem vorgesehen ist, wobei das zugehörige Lichtmikroskopiesystem eine Strahlungserzeugungsvorrichtung (7) umfasst, die einen ersten (1) und einen zweiten (2) Strahl emittieren kann, wobei es sich beim ersten Strahl um einen Anregungsstrahl und beim zweiten Strahl um einen Abregungsstrahl relativ zum ersten Strahl handelt, wobei die optische Untereinheit Folgendes umfasst:

eine Lichtführungsvorrichtung (110) zum Führen des ersten und des zweiten Strahls durch die Untereinheit,

ein optisches Element (6) zum Fokussieren des ersten und des zweiten Strahls auf das Objekt, wobei das optische Element relativ zur Strahlungserzeugungsvorrichtung angeordnet ist, um einen gemeinsamen optischen Pfad für den ersten und den zweiten Strahl zu definieren, und

ein Phasenmodifizierungselement (5), das sich im gemeinsamen optischen Pfad befindet, wobei das Phasenmodifizierungselement optisch so angeordnet ist, dass es die Phase des ersten Strahls (1) im Wesentlichen unverändert lässt und die Phase des zweiten Strahls (2') so verändert, dass im Objekt eine nicht abgeregte zu untersuchende Region erzeugt wird,

wobei das Phasenmodifizierungselement (5) die Phase des zweiten Strahls (2) modifizieren kann, da es über eine Oberfläche mit mehreren Regionen verfügt, die eine erste und eine zweite Region (31, 32, 33) umfasst, wobei die erste Region eine hervorstehende Höhe aufweist, die über die Höhe der zweiten Region hinausragt, und wobei das Phasenmodifizierungselement (5) die Phase des zweiten Strahls (2') modifiziert, wobei das Phasenmodifizierungselement (5) über eine Azimutalkonfiguration (31, 32, 33) verfügt, wobei die einzelnen Regionen der mehreren Regionen innerhalb eines azimutalen Winkelintervalls positioniert sind, und

wobei die zweite Lichtfleckamplitude U in der Brennebene des fokussierenden optischen Elements annähernd rotationssymmetrisch zum gemeinsamen optischen Pfad verläuft, da das Phasenmodifizierungselement (5) annähernd folgende Gleichungen erfüllen muss:



wobei k der Segmentnummer, Φk der Segmentphase und wk der Segmentgröße entspricht, die dem Endwinkel abzüglich des Startwinkels des Segments k entspricht.


 
8. Die optische Untereinheit (100), die für die optische Bildgebung eines zugehörigen Objekts mithilfe von Stimulated Emission Depletion (STED) im zugehörigen Lichtmikroskopiesystem gemäß Anspruch 7 vorgesehen ist, wobei die optische Untereinheit Teil eines Endoskops, eines Katheters, einer Nadel oder einer Biopsienadel für die medizinische Bildgebung ist.
 
9. Eine Methode zum Durchführen einer Lichtmikroskopie mit Stimulated Emission Depletion (STED) für ein Objekt, wobei die Methode folgende Schritte umfasst:

Emittieren von Strahlung, die einen ersten (1) und einen zweiten (2) Strahl umfasst,

wobei es sich beim ersten Strahl um einen Anregungsstrahl und beim zweiten Strahl um einen Abregungsstrahl relativ zum ersten Strahl handelt, Fokussieren des ersten und des zweiten Strahls auf das Objekt mithilfe eines optischen Elements (6), wobei das optische Element einen gemeinsamen optischen Pfad (OP) für den ersten und den zweiten Strahl definiert, und Bereitstellen eines Phasenmodifizierungselements (5), das sich im gemeinsamen optischen Pfad befindet, wobei das Phasenmodifizierungselement optisch so angeordnet ist, dass es die Phase des ersten Strahls im Wesentlichen unverändert lässt und die Phase des zweiten Strahls so verändert, dass im Objekt eine nicht abgeregte zu untersuchende Region erzeugt wird, wobei das Phasenmodifizierungselement (5) die Phase des zweiten Strahls (2) modifizieren kann, da es über eine Oberfläche mit mehreren Regionen verfügt, die eine erste und eine zweite Region (31, 32, 33) umfasst, wobei die erste Region eine hervorstehende Höhe aufweist, die über die Höhe der zweiten Region hinausragt, und wobei das Phasenmodifizierungselement (5) die Phase des zweiten Strahls (2') modifiziert, wobei das Phasenmodifizierungselement (5) über eine Azimutalkonfiguration (31, 32, 33) verfügt, wobei die einzelnen Regionen der mehreren Regionen innerhalb eines azimutalen Winkelintervalls positioniert sind, und

wobei die zweite Lichtfleckamplitude U in der Brennebene des fokussierenden optischen Elements annähernd rotationssymmetrisch zum gemeinsamen optischen Pfad verläuft, da das Phasenmodifizierungselement (5) annähernd folgende Gleichungen erfüllen muss:



wobei k der Segmentnummer, Φk der Segmentphase und wk der Segmentgröße entspricht, die dem Endwinkel abzüglich des Startwinkels des Segments k entspricht.


 
10. Das System gemäß Anspruch 1 oder die optische Untereinheit gemäß Anspruch 7 oder die Methode gemäß Anspruch 9, wobei die mehreren Regionen auf der Oberfläche des Phasenmodifizierungselements (5) aus einem optischen Material hergestellt werden.
 


Revendications

1. Système (10) de microscopie optique pour la déplétion par émission stimulée (STED) d'un objet (O) associé, le système comprenant :

un moyen de génération de rayonnement (7) apte à émettre d'un premier (1) et d'un second (2) faisceau, le premier faisceau étant un faisceau d'excitation, le second faisceau étant un faisceau de déplétion par rapport au premier faisceau,

un élément optique (6) destiné à la focalisation du premier et du second faisceau sur l'objet, l'élément optique étant conçu par rapport au moyen de génération de rayonnement pour définir un chemin optique (OP) commun pour le premier et le second faisceau, et un élément de modification de phase (5) inséré dans ledit chemin optique (OP) commun, dans lequel l'élément de modification de phase est conçu de manière optique pour laisser la phase du premier faisceau sensiblement inchangée, et pour modifier la phase du second faisceau (2') de manière à créer une zone d'intérêt (ROI) non déplétée dans l'objet,

dans lequel l'élément de modification de phase (5) est apte à modifier la phase du second faisceau (2) par le fait de comporter une surface comportant une pluralité de zones comprenant une première et une seconde zone (31, 32, 33), la première zone présentant une hauteur en saillie, laquelle est supérieure à la hauteur de la seconde zone, l'élément de modification de phase (5) étant apte à modifier la phase du second faisceau (2'),

dans lequel l'élément de modification de phase (5) présente une configuration azimutale (31, 32, 33), dans lequel chaque zone de ladite pluralité de zones est positionnée dans un intervalle d'angle azimutal, et

dans lequel la seconde amplitude de point de faisceau, U, au niveau du plan focal de l'élément optique de focalisation, est approximativement symétrique en rotation autour du chemin optique commun par exigence du fait que l'élément de modification de phase (5) remplisse approximativement les équations suivantes :



k désignant le numéro du segment, Φk la phase du segment, wk la taille du segment, laquelle est égale à l'angle de fin moins l'angle de début du segment k.


 
2. Système selon la revendication 1, dans lequel l'élément de modification de phase (5) est apte à laisser la phase du premier faisceau (1) sensiblement inchangée par changement de la phase du premier faisceau en module de 2 fois pi (π).
 
3. Système selon la revendication 1, dans lequel au moins ledit élément optique (6) et l'élément de modification de phase (5) sont positionnés dans un endoscope, un cathéter, une aiguille ou une aiguille de biopsie pour l'imagerie médicale.
 
4. Système selon la revendication 1, dans lequel la pluralité de zones présentent des hauteurs croissantes consécutivement au niveau de la surface de l'élément de modification de phase (5).
 
5. Système selon la revendication 1, dans lequel les hauteurs au niveau de la surface de l'élément de modification de phase (5) présentent une distribution de hauteur de telle sorte que la phase modifiée du second faisceau en fonction de l'angle azimutal, Φ(ϕ), est approximativement égale à la angle azimutal;
Φ(ϕ)=ϕ fois ϕ∈ [0,2 π)
 
6. Système selon la revendication 1, dans lequel la seconde amplitude de point de faisceau, U, au niveau du plan focal de l'élément optique de focalisation, est approximativement nulle à une position centrale du chemin optique (r=0), par exigence du fait que l'élément de modification de phase (5) remplisse approximativement l'équation suivante :

k désignant le numéro du segment, Φk la phase du segment, wk la taille du segment, laquelle est égale à l'angle de fin moins l'angle de début du segment k.
 
7. Sous-unité optique (100) conçue pour imager optiquement un objet associé à l'aide d'une déplétion par émission stimulée (STED) dans un système de microscopie optique associé, le système de microscopie optique associé comprenant un moyen de génération de rayonnement (7) apte à émettre un premier (1) et un second (2) faisceau, le premier faisceau étant un faisceau d'excitation, le second faisceau étant un faisceau de déplétion par rapport au premier faisceau, le sous-ensemble optique comprenant :

un moyen de guidage optique (110) destiné au guidage du premier et du second faisceau à travers le sous-ensemble,

un élément optique (6) destiné à la focalisation du premier et du second faisceau sur l'objet, l'élément optique étant conçu par rapport au moyen de génération de rayonnement pour définir un chemin optique commun pour le premier et le second faisceau, et

un élément de modification de phase (5) inséré dans ledit chemin optique commun,

dans lequel l'élément de modification de phase est conçu optiquement pour laisser la phase du premier faisceau (1) sensiblement inchangée, et pour changer la phase du second faisceau (2') de manière à créer une zone d'intérêt non déplétée dans l'objet,

dans lequel l'élément de modification de phase (5) est apte à modifier la phase du second faisceau (2) par le fait de comporter une surface comportant une pluralité de zones comprenant une première et une seconde zone (31, 32, 33), la première zone présentant une hauteur en saillie, laquelle est supérieure à la hauteur de la seconde zone, l'élément de modification de phase (5) étant apte à modifier la phase du second faisceau (2'),

dans lequel l'élément de modification de phase (5) présente une configuration azimutale (31, 32, 33), dans lequel chaque zone de ladite pluralité de zones est positionnée dans un intervalle d'angle azimutal, et

dans lequel la seconde amplitude de point de faisceau, U, au niveau du plan focal de l'élément optique de focalisation, est approximativement symétrique en rotation autour du chemin optique commun par exigence du fait que l'élément de modification de phase (5) remplisse approximativement les équations suivantes :



k désignant le numéro du segment, Φk la phase du segment, wk la taille du segment, laquelle est égale à l'angle de fin moins l'angle de début du segment k.


 
8. Sous-unité optique (100) conçue pour imager optiquement un objet associé à l'aide de la déplétion par émission stimulée (STED) dans un système de microscopie optique associé selon la revendication 7, dans laquelle la sous-unité optique fait partie d'un endoscope, d'un cathéter, d'une aiguille ou d'une aiguille de biopsie pour l'imagerie médicale.
 
9. Procédé de réalisation d'une microscopie optique à déplétion par émission stimulée (STED) d'un objet, le procédé comprenant :

l'émission d'un rayonnement comprenant un premier (1) et un second (2) faisceau, le premier faisceau étant un faisceau d'excitation, le second faisceau étant un faisceau de déplétion par rapport au premier faisceau,

la focalisation du premier et du second faisceau sur l'objet à l'aide d'un élément optique (6), l'élément optique définissant un chemin optique (OP) commun pour le premier et le second faisceau, et

la fourniture d'un élément de modification de phase (5) dans ledit chemin optique commun,

dans lequel l'élément de modification de phase est conçu optiquement pour laisser la phase du premier faisceau sensiblement inchangée, et pour modifier la phase du second faisceau de manière à créer une zone d'intérêt non déplétée dans l'objet,

dans lequel l'élément de modification de phase (5) est apte à modifier la phase du second faisceau (2) par le fait de comporter une surface comportant une pluralité de zones comprenant une première et une seconde zone (31, 32, 33), la première zone présentant une hauteur en saillie, laquelle est supérieure à la hauteur de la seconde zone, l'élément de modification de phase (5) étant apte à modifier la phase du second faisceau (2'),

dans lequel l'élément de modification de phase (5) présente une configuration azimutale (31, 32, 33), dans lequel chaque zone de ladite pluralité de zones est positionnée dans un intervalle d'angle azimutal, et

dans lequel la seconde amplitude de point de faisceau, U, au niveau du plan focal de l'élément optique de focalisation, est approximativement symétrique en rotation autour du chemin optique commun par exigence du fait que l'élément de modification de phase (5) remplisse approximativement les équations suivantes :



k désignant le numéro du segment, Φk la phase du segment, wk la taille du segment, laquelle est égale à l'angle de fin moins l'angle de début du segment k.


 
10. Système selon la revendication 1 ou sous-unité optique selon la revendication 7 ou procédé selon la revendication 9, dans lesquels la pluralité de zones de la surface de l'élément de modification de phase (5) est fabriquée en une seule matière optique.
 




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Cited references

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