Optical applications in the field of life science
Automation, digitization, and efficient business models are considered as key challenges in the life sciences sector. The use of powerful photonic solutions supports this development path and opens a wide range of possible applications. Optical components such as lenses, filters and beam shapers can be used, for example, in the medical field, for diagnoses and (surgical) treatments, but also in biology and microscopy, e.g. for the visual inspection of smallest creatures. They have to meet high quality and purity requirements as well as miniaturization specifications.
asphericon's product portfolio for the life science sector includes:
- Optics with perfect imaging properties
- BeamTuning/BeamShaping components for optimized illumination (e.g. in fluorescence microscopy)
- High-precision antireflection, dielectric and filter coatings for wavelength separation of wavelengths
- Diffraction-limited optical systems
- Compact/miniaturized designs with best imaging results
Regarding the broad spectrum of possible applications in life science sector, a wide variety of materials can be used depending on the requirements. High-quality lenses for objectives and eyepieces, robust mirrors, or beam splitters for the guidance of beam paths are only some of the individual solutions. The necessary requirements can be covered by materials that are characterized by high power density and durability as well as high efficiency. asphericon is specialized in the production of optical components for the life science sector from the following materials:
- Various types of glass and silica
- IR materials and metals
- Further materials on request
Our modern clean room environments (ISO Classes 5 and 7), joining (e.g. laser welding) and measuring technologies (optical and tactile) also enable us to connect and measure the optical components under highest purity requirements.
Optical components and systems, e.g. in the field of medical technology, not only have to withstand daily use of numerous examinations in long term, but also protect patients and doctors to the fullest extent. For example, medical filter coatings are necessary to protect the eyes during laser treatment. asphericon offers a range of comprehensive safety coatings within a broad wavelength spectrum for semi-transparent filter layers.
In addition, our portfolio also includes resistant coatings, such as anti-reflective or dielectric coatings.
To achieve increasingly accurate (measuring) results, precision optics are taking on an important role in the life science sector. In this context, asphericon's High-End Finishing supports the process as a final correction step for optical components to achieve an optimal surface roughness. The process can be divided into three technologies: the ION-Finish™ and the Magnetorheological Finishing Technology® (short: MRF), for roughnesses up to λ/500 RMS on flat surfaces, as well as the Ångström-Polish, developed by asphericon, which enables roughness values of up to 5 Å (Rq according to ISO 10110) on optical surfaces. For example, apically mounted micro lenses of a modern endoscope can benefit from such precise results. As an essential component of a miniature camera, the spherical or aspheric micro lens enables, for example, the visualization of structures in hidden body cavities during an examination process.
For exact microscopic examinations, a sufficiently and homogeneously illuminated microscope slide is required. However, within laser-based measuring methods, such as fluorescence microscopy, often used Gaussian intensity profiles lead to uneven illumination conditions. A challenge that arises from this, especially in the field of wide-field fluorescence microscopy, is the lower and thus often insufficient illumination of peripherally located molecules. The beam shaper a|TopShape offers a robust solution here. It converts collimated Gaussian beams into collimated Top-Hat beams and thus creates a uniform illumination (homogeneity > 90 %) and activation of the molecules. Thanks to its compact design, the a|TopShape can be easily integrated into existing set-ups. Available in different design wavelengths, the beam shaper is also suitable for applications in the UV range and/or quantum mechanics.
The diversity of applications in the life science sector extends equally to the large selection of suitable optical components.
Diffraction-limited imaging systems built into slit lamps are used, for example, in ophthalmic surgery for quick and easy preliminary and follow-up examinations of a patient's eye. This can be ensured by installing high-quality spheres and aspheres in objectives.
High-resolution lenses are also required in microscopy, for the observation of tiny objects that are not visible to the human eye. The focus here is on high resolution with the best possible magnification. Excellent imaging results can be achieved, for example, by using High-End Finishing treated optical components.
In ophthalmology, image-supported communication between examiner and patient facilitates the evaluation of a recorded retinal image, thanks to innovative optical components with compact designs.
Coatings for beam splitters and beam shaping systems are used in laser surgery. During minimally invasive procedures, high-precision body tissue sections can be made by laser. This is made possible by so-called Top-Hat beam profiles, which are characterized by a homogeneous intensity distribution and high edge steepness. Safety during an operation is always fully ensured for both, doctor and patient, by wavelength-specific optical filters.