Speeding-up free-form cutting processes of printed circuit boards can be an extremely challenging task. While commonly used milling processes introduce vibration to sensitive devices, the use of CO2 lasers causes charring and unwanted conductive residues on the PCB. Using 355nm UV lasers prevents charring but the low penetration depth at 355nm requires high laser pulse energies ending up with low cutting speeds, expensive system pricing and poor laser lifetime. Going to high rep-rate, short pulse 532nm lasers, the use of InnoLas Photonics’ BLIZZ lasers enables up to 30mm/sec high speed PCB cutting processes with unparalleled cutting quality, outstanding laser performance and reliability, combined with unrivaled system costs.
Interferometer OptoTL-60 is designed specifically for the use in optics manufacturing facilities and laboratories. Places we rugged design, ease of use and fast measurement procedure is important. As a complete solution interferometer comes with a powerful software where you can analyze data and get an accurate evaluation instantly.
We are happy to introduce two new suppliers that have joined the companies we represent:
UniKLasers develops and produces Single Frequency DPSS lasers for demanding applications in:
Leading edge research,
Environmental Metrology, etc.
UniKLasers Ltd is the only company, whose Continuous Wave Single Frequency DPSS Lasers uniquely perform at any wavelength within the range from NIR to UV from just a single technology platform, using our proprietary patented BRaMMS DPSS Laser technology. Whereas conventional light can be dispersed by a prism into a spectrum of constituent colours, our lasers emit just one ultra pure colour.
Using the BRaMMS laser technology we can offer any wavelength within spectrum range
from IR (around 2µm) to through deep UV (<200nm)
from our range of DPSS lasers operating in the CW Single Frequency regime. This is unique for a single platform laser technology.
All UniKLasers products feature laser cavity feedback locked Single Longitudinal Mode CW performance with no lock loss and mode hops during 100s of hours of nonstop operation.
The excellent beam quality with M2 <1.05 emerges from the smallest footprint and at the lowest power consumption for given output, with noise figure as low as < 0.1%rms (10Hz-10MHz).
Benefits of our laser design include:
Up to ten times higher conversion efficiency
Power scalability without water cooling
No mode beating & associated high-frequency noise, which often limits applicability
The longest coherence length of over 100m, effectively the path difference over which lasers can interfere.
Laser Point was founded in 1987, as a distribution Company. Over the years, it has diversified its activities into other laser related areas. LaserPoint develops and manufactures innovative power/energy sensors and meters, custom power and energy solutions and power probes. Laser Point’s original fully certified calibration facility and repair centre cover all Europe, while the new open centre in China supports our Asian Customers.
Development of methodology for Tokamak reactor maintenance made possible by Andor iStar high speed and resolution ICCD
With the current focus on green and renewable energy sources, most of which capture the sun’s energy second-hand, it’s easy to overlook the global effort to build a fusion reactor that will replicate the process at the core of our Sun – i.e. energy production through fusion of atoms – to help meet mankind’s energy needs. Due to one of the largest scientific endeavors of our time, ITER is on track to build the world’s biggest fusion device in the south of France with a projected working life of more than twenty years.
However, this fusion process will indirectly lead to the build-up of thick deposits of material layers on the reactor walls and the team at ITER need to know how fast the deposits are growing, as well as their chemical composition, so that the maintenance of the reactor can be better planned and made more efficient with minimum impact on operation time. Now, an international team using the speed and resolution of Andor’s iStar ICCD camera has published a spectroscopic method that can determine non-invasively the composition of the layers, including specific beryllium containing samples, for the first time.
“Shutting down any nuclear reactor is an expensive exercise, so a non-invasive diagnostics technique that maximizes service intervals has the potential for massive savings,” says Dr Antti Hakola, senior scientist at the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland. “Our laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) experiments are important as they show that the composition of the deposits as well as their thickness can be determined without taking any components out of the reactor. In addition, this is the first time that beryllium samples, which are very significant for fusion applications, have been analysed and we now know their ablation characteristics.
“We compared products from a number of manufacturers before choosing the Andor SR-750 spectrograph and Andor iStar 340T intensified CCD (ICCD) camera”, continues Dr Hakola. “The key for us was the very fast (nanosecond) and precise (picosecond) temporal resolution as our main criteria were to ensure fast triggering, that the width and delay of the recording gate can be flexibly changed, even to a sub-ns regime, and that the spectral resolution would be high (less than 0.05 nm). The spectrometer has proved an utterly reliable tool and the Andor software has also been helpful, particularly in obtaining kinetic series of how spectral lines evolve as the number of laser pulses increases.”
According to Antoine Varagnat, Product Specialist at Andor, “The ambition of the ITER project to prove that fusion could be a viable renewable source of energy for the future is indeed extremely exciting for the scientific community and the public. But harnessing the energy produced by the fusion of atoms is not a simple endeavor, and numerous aspects of the process have to be well understood. I am delighted that the iStar’s high-speed and ultra-sensitive resolution has allowed this international Research team to show that LIBS can be used not only as a non-invasive diagnostics technique in ITER but also in other fusion reactors being researched. This work may be lead to the development of vital tools and process in furthering the research into this technology – the ultimate green energy solution.”
General purpose motion applications are perfectly well-served by mechanical bearing solutions like recirculating ball bearings or crossed-roller bearings, but there are many cases where precision, angular repeatability, and geometric performance must be optimal. An air-bearing stage can help achieve this. An air-bearing stage is either a rotary or linear positioner that floats on a cushion of air, using one of several preload mechanisms, nearly eliminating mechanical contact and thus wear, friction, and hysteresis effects. These are the most common indicators that an air-bearing stage might be the right choice for your application.
1. High-Precision Positioning
A direct-drive motor and high-resolution encoder can position a moving carriage supported by an air bearing to within nanometers in a linear case or arc-seconds in angular cases. The lack of friction and mechanical contact means there is minimal hysteresis or reversal error, making it highly repeatable and ideal for many inspection and manufacturing operations.
2. Velocity Stability
The lack of mechanical bearing elements means there is nothing to get in the way of smooth, controlled velocity (stability to better than 0.01%). Experiments and processes like inertial sensor testing, tomography, and work with Bose Einstein Condensates that require continuous motion at a tightly controlled speeds are best served by air-bearing systems.
3. Geometric Performance
The angular performance of an air bearing is remarkably repeatable. For linear stages, pitch, roll, and yaw errors can be as low as a few arc-seconds, and rotary stages have tilt (wobble) less than 1 arc-second. This guarantees optimal part quality and measurement reliability for applications like mirror and optics inspection, and semiconductor and medical device manufacturing.
4. Minimal Maintenance
There are no contacting parts to undergo wear and tear, and no regular maintenance procedures to be performed like lubrication. An air-bearing stage is essentially maintenance-free.
5. Perfect Match for Linear Amplifiers
Many applications like eddy current inspection, high-precision angular pointing, or anything involving noise-sensitive electronics require a linear power amplifier. As opposed to a pulse width modulated (PWM) amplifier, a linear amp exhibits no switching noise and filters out other sources of line noise to prevent interference with an experiment. Generally, if the level of measurement precision required necessitates a linear amplifier, it may also be best-served by an air-bearing stage to match that precision in positioning capability.
For more information on air-bearing stages including the pros and cons for your application, contact an Altechna Instruments Sales and check out the options here.
Speakers – Prof. Bjoern Reinhard, Prof. Ioan Nothingher, Dr. Gerald Cairns
In March 2015, Prof. Bjoern Reinhard (University of Boston), Prof. Ioan Nothingher (University of Nottingham) and Dr. Gerald Cairns (Andor) will present a webinar on the topic Micro-spectroscopy. Micro-spectroscopy is an ever developing modality for new and exciting research in the areas of nano-technology and bioscience.
During this webinar they will look at modular approaches to microspectroscopy and how it is being applied in a range of research areas such as micro-luminescent and plasmonic studies on nano-structures to its use in studies of live-cell and tissue analysis.
Full registration and event details will be posted once confirmed, however please click the button below and complete the form if you would like to be automatically registered for this event as soon as registration becomes available.
The speed, resolution and sensitivity of the Andor Zyla sCMOS camera has allowed the Vaziri research group in Vienna, Austria, to simultaneously image neuronal activity across an entire organism for the first time. This profound advance follows closely on their innovative wide-field temporal focusing (WF-TeFo) two-photon approach to high-speed imaging of whole brains, which was also enabled by an Andor camera – the Neo sCMOS.
Publishing in Nature Methods, the team describe using their new technique of light-field deconvolution microscopy (LFDM) to map the simultaneous neuronal population activity of a whole nematode worm, Caenorhabditis elegans, as well as the whole-brain of zebrafish larvae in combination with sensory stimulation 20x faster than previously achieved using other techniques.
According to lead author, Dr Robert Prevedel, “LFDM elegantly combines light-field microscopy with 3D deconvolution and enables us to image a whole 3D-volume with a single exposure to a 2D sensor. This simultaneous 3D imaging is scan-less and involves no moving parts during acquisition, can be easily added to any commercial microscope, and is very cost-effective.
“Our experiments on whole organism imaging demonstrate the sheer power of LFDM for high-speed imaging, which is limited only by the camera frame-rate and the signal strength of the Ca-reporter. Our nuclear-confined Calcium-indicator, which visualises the activity of a neuron by increasing its fluorescence, was combined with the ultra-fast frame rate of the Andor Zyla 5.5 megapixel sCMOS camera for unambiguous discrimination of individual neurons across C. elegans. The 100 Hz full-frame Zyla camera was one of the two fastest sCMOS cameras available and in the development of our WF-TeFo microscopy technique we had been very satisfied with the performance of its predecessor, the 30 Hz Andor Neo.”
Dr Prevedel describes the performance of the Zyla sCMOS camera as “flawless” and continues: “We especially liked the capability of the control software, SOLIS, to capture, stream and display the huge image data in real time and with minimal efforts. This way we could watch the data acquisition in real time and effortlessly browse through many GBs of recordings. In the end, we only needed to deploy the Zyla at 50 Hz but the extra speed capability may be very useful in future experiments.”
Although light-field microscopy (LFM) has been successfully applied to imaging still and in-vitro biological samples, it has not been used for any functional biological imaging. This is due largely to its reduced spatial resolution compared to standard microscopy methods and the inherent trade-off between the spatial and axial resolution as well as axial imaging range. LFDM combines LFM with a 3D deconvolution algorithm whereby to achieve an effective resolution of approx. 1.4 μm and 2.6 μm in the lateral and axial dimensions respectively inside biological samples using a 40x objective while simultaneously recording neuronal population activity over a field of view of approx. 350 μm x 350 μm x 30 μm. This is sufficient to capture the dynamics of neurons distributed across the entire nervous system of C. elegans.
Using a 20x 0.5NA objective, the group also applied their imaging technique to capture the neuronal activity of zebrafish whole brains, were they achieved instantaneous imaging of massive field-of-views of 750 μm x 750 μm x 200 μm with spatial resolution of approx. 3.5 μm laterally and 11 μm axially.
“The value of this work to the neuroscience community is evident in the immediate attention it attracted,” says Orla Hanrahan of Andor. “And, because their imaging methodology can be applied quite simply and straightforwardly to existing microscopes, it should find immediate and widespread use.”
Unlike previous CMOS or CCD technologies, the Andor Zyla 5.5 sets radical new benchmarks in its unique ability to simultaneously deliver highest specifications in sensitivity, resolution, speed, dynamic range and field-of-view. The camera is based around a large 5.5 megapixel sensor with 6.5 µm pixels and a 22 mm diameter and is capable of 100 fps sustained (Camera Link; 40 fps, USB3), making it ideal for applications in cell microscopy, astronomy, digital pathology, and high content screening. The Rolling and Global shutter exposure modes further enhances application flexibility. Global shutter in particular offers an ideal means to simply and efficiently synchronize the Zyla with other ‘moving’ devices, such as stages or light switching sources, and eliminating the possibility of spatial distortion when imaging fast moving objects.
LightSheet PLUS is a new feature which has been added to Zyla 4.2 to allow the end-user to have more control over the Rolling Shutter scanning mechanism. In standard rolling shutter cameras, the user typically has no control over parameters such as scan direction or scan speed. This new mode introduces significant flexibility, enabling the user to finely synchronize to a range of illumination scan options and to minimize dead time between scans. The primary application for these new scanning modes is Scanned Light Sheet Microscopy.
The bulk of light sheet microscopy applications today investigate the development of living embryos and the samples under examination can be relatively large and thick. By virtue of this, it can be quite difficult to acquire highly resolved images due to the scattering of light and low contrast in such samples. One proposed alternative approach is to sweep a laser beam across the focal plane, resulting in a planar illumination equivalent to a sheet but with improved illumination efficiency and uniform intensity distribution. LightSheet PLUS functionality allows the user to synchronize the scanning of their illumination beam to a defined scan row height on the sensor. Image quality is improved since the scan row height can act as a slit detector, rejecting scattered light, improving contrast and SNR and hence providing sharper and more resolved images.
LightSheet PLUS allows the user to synchronize their light sheet to a defined scan row height on the sensor which can improve the image quality since the scan row height can act as a slit detector removing out of focus light and hence, provide sharper and more resolved images. LightSheet PLUS allows the user to scan their light sheet from the top to the bottom of the sensor or vice versa in one continuous sweep. An enhanced degree of precision control is available through FlexiScan, allowing independent control over the scan row height, scan speed and exposure time. Furthermore, LightSheet PLUS provides multiple different readout directions allowing the user further flexibility. CycleMax functionality ensures minimum deadtime between scans by enabling the laser sweep and corresponding rolling shutter scan direction to alternate from top-bottom to bottom-top, thus avoiding the need to reset the laser to the same starting position for each subsequent image.
The figure below illustrates the Rolling Shutter mechanism, and is adapted from one of the first papers (1) which describes the approach of scanned light sheet microscopy with confocal slit detection. As each row starts to expose sequentially down the sCMOS sensor, the sensor essentially acts as a rolling exposure window of pixels that are exposing simultaneously. By synchronising the scanning light source with the rolling exposure window one can combine the rolling shutter exposure slit with the scanning light source.
The standard mode of operation in sCMOS cameras is to read out from the centre of the sensor out to the edge with two halves of the sensor exposing simultaneously. LightSheet PLUS provides the user with a range of different readout options. Firstly, the rolling shutter can now be scanned from the top to the bottom of the sensor or vice versa in one continuous sweep (Figure 1) and at the same time the user has the ability to control the slit width (number of rows to expose), exposure time and scan speed.
It has been reported previously (1), that the length of the exposure time governed the slit width and therefore as the exposure time was increased the slit width was also increased. This ensured that for weakly fluorescent samples the exposure time could be extended to increase the fluorescent signal in the sample but the slit width would also be increased thereby reducing the contrast and confocality in the final image.
In order to have an increased signal and confocality concurrently, it would require that the exposure time and slit width be controlled independently. LightSheet PLUS makes this possible. As well as this, the user has the ability to alter the speed with which the slit width scans the sensor. This becomes important when investigating highly dynamic samples where speed is crucial. In addition, the light source which is synched to the sensor may not have the ability to scan at very high speeds and in this instance it would be useful to slow down the scan speed of the ‘virtual slit’. Table 1 below denotes the flexibility of LightSheet PLUS in terms of scan speed and exposure time.
* 216 MHz
* 540 MHz
Scan speed range (Rows/ms)
2.98 – 41.67
7.43 – 104
Exposure range for slit width of 10 rows (ms)
0.240 – 3.36
0.096 – 1.344
Scan time for one full image (ms)
49 – 686
19.69 – 275.66
Table 1. Independent control of scan speed and exposure time in LightSheet PLUS (*Due to a granularity of 290/118 (216/540 MHz) ns with the scan speeds the user can fine tune the readout speed with excellent precision)
Furthermore, LightSheet PLUS offers the user multiple new scanning directions for the rolling shutter mechanism in which both sides of the sensor can be used. As well as the standard mode of operation whereby the sensor is scanned from the centre outwards in both directions simultaneously, the user now has the option to change the direction of the scan on either half of the sCMOS sensor. These new scanning options for sCMOS are ideal in multi-wavelength applications where two light sources are scanning across the image sensor with different wavelengths. These are illustrated below in Figure 2.
For all the various scanning options it would be advantageous to have the minimum deadtime between alternate frames and have the ability to capture multiple frames as fast as possible. LightSheet PLUS offers a unique mechanism which enables this functionality. CycleMax functionality ensures minimum deadtime between scans by enabling the laser sweep and corresponding rolling shutter scan direction to alternate from top-bottom to bottom-top, thus avoiding the need to reset the laser to the same starting position for each subsequent image. CycleMax is available in all the various different scanning modes (whether using the full sensor in once continuous sweep or both sides of the sensor simultaneously).
References: Optics Express, Vol. 20, Issue 19, pp. 21805-21814, 2012
A novel super-resolution fluorescence microscope equipped with a low-noise, high-speed 5.5 Megapixel Andor Neo sCMOS camera has enabled the real-time nanoscopic imaging of large fields of living cells for the first time. Researchers from the Max Planck Institute in Goettingen, Germany, adopted massive parallelisation techniques to create 116,000 simultaneous scanning points and super-resolve 120 µm × 100 µm fields in less than a second.
The research was led by Professor Stefan Hell, who first advanced STED (Stimulated Emission Depletion) and RESOLFT (Reversible Saturable/Switchable Optical Fluorescence Transitions) far-field, super-resolution microscopy. Although RESOLFT can capture images at video rates, until now imaging speed has been governed by the kinetics of fluorophore state transition and, more importantly, the number of scanning steps required to cover the field of view.
Reporting their results in Nature Methods, the team reconciled the major goals of nanoscopy development: low-intensity operation, large fields of view, and fast recording, at a resolution not limited by diffraction. They demonstrated that RESOLFT nonlinear structured illumination can be parallelised using two incoherently superimposed orthogonal standing light waves. The intensity minima of the resulting pattern act as imaging ‘doughnuts’, providing isotropic resolution in the focal plane and making pattern rotation redundant.
(a,b) The 120 μm × 100 μm field of view (wide field (a) and RESOLFT (b)) shows PtK2 cells expressing keratin 19–rsEGFP(N205S). The RESOLFT image was reconstructed from 144 frames, each acquired in 22 ms; total image acquisition time was ~3 s. Scale bars, 10 μm. Intensity is from black, low, to white, high. (c,d) Magnified region (wide field (c) and RESOLFT (d)) of a PtK2 cell expressing keratin 19–rsEGFP(N205S) (Supplementary Fig. 3). Scale bars, 1 μm. (e) Normalized intensity profiles of the regions between the arrowheads in c (black squares) and d (red dots). The profile of the RESOLFT data (red line) is fitted to a sum of three Gaussians (purple, green and orange lines) with individual full-width half-maxima (FWHM) of 77 nm, 133 nm and 110 nm.
“Super-resolution far-field fluorescence microscopy, which relies on fluorophores transiently assuming different ‘on’ and ‘off’ states, is theoretically capable of resolution without any optical limit,” says Orla Hanrahan, product specialist at Andor. “Professor Hell has now demonstrated the power of parallelised RESOLFT with a 2D array of 116,000 intensity zero ‘doughnuts’. The result is super-fast, super-resolution of living cells with the recording speed lim¬ited only by the state transition kinetics of the fluorophore and the camera frame rate.
“Despite the enormous advancements brought about by electron and scanning probe microscopy, light microscopy uniquely provides non-invasive, 3D imaging of the interior of cells and allows the detection of specific cellular constituents. The advancement in nanosopy demonstrated by Professor Hell and his associates brings much nearer the time when working scientists can easily count molecules in cells in a very simple way and has the potential to revolutionise molecular and cell biology and transform medical and pharmaceutical research.”
The Andor Neo 5.5 megapixel sCMOS camera is a unique -40°C vacuum cooled platform designed around a superb, low noise 5.5 megapixel sensor with 6.5 µm pixels and a 22mm diameter to drive lowest possible dark noise. Ideal for cell microscopy, astronomy, digital pathology, and high content screening, the Neo 5.5 delivers an unmatched 30 fps sustained or up to 100 fps burst mode to its internal 4GB memory. The Rolling and Global shutter flexibility further enhances application flexibility, Global shutter in particular offering an ideal means to simply and efficiently synchronize the Neo with other ‘moving’ devices such as stages or light switching sources and eliminating the possibility of spatial distortion when imaging fast moving objects.
The highly repeatable and thermally stable feedback sensors used on the Aerotech AGV-HPO scanner systems can be calibrated down to single-digit, micron-level accuracy over the field of view. With the extremely low thermal gain drift performance of the position transducers, complex, high-density laser machining applications will maintain consistent micron-level feature placement accuracy over the lifetime of the process. Likewise, high throughput applications will maintain consistent part-to-part quality without having to re-calibrate between parts.
Most scanner control interfaces are on the same surface as the laser input aperture which can create interference problems if the laser beam path approaches the scanner from the top. The AGV-HPO control connections consist of two 300 mm cables terminated in 25-pin D-style connectors. The cables can be oriented in any direction to ensure there is no interference with beam delivery. The AGV-HPO is also available with right-side and left-side input apertures for “mirror image” machine builds or side-by-side scanner mounting with a single laser beam split to source both scanners.
The location of the AGV-HPO mirrors can be captured and analyzed in real time. With direct access to the positions of the scanner, the user no longer has to program delay parameters to compensate for lag and tracking errors in the servo system. The process can be optimized prior to marking the part, saving time and reducing material waste. The state of the laser can also be controlled based on in-position and velocity criteria, further reducing programming complexity.
The AGV-HPO utilizes all of Aerotech’s advanced motion and PSO (Position Synchronized Output) capabilities that have been developed for traditional servo-based laser processing applications. Contouring functions such as Acceleration Limiting can be used to automatically reduce speeds in tight corners or small radii to minimize overshoot. The laser can be triggered based on the position feedback of the mirrors with PSO to ensure consistent spot overlap as the scanner changes speed. Aerotech’s Infinite Field of View (IFOV™) function seamlessly combines servo and scanner motion to extend the marking capability of the scanner across the entire travel of the servo stages, eliminating stitching errors that can occur in a more traditional move-expose-repeat process.
The AGV-HPO family is available with 10, 14, 20, and 30 mm input apertures and can be equipped with an F-Theta or telecentric lens directly from Aerotech. Users can also acquire the focusing optic directly from a trusted supplier with Aerotech supplying a spacer ring to ensure that back reflections through the optic do not damage the scanner mirrors. Mirror coatings for a wide range of UV, visible, IR, and CO2 wavelengths are supported.