JP2005062850A - Confocal microscope - Google Patents

Confocal microscope Download PDF

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JP2005062850A
JP2005062850A JP2004217423A JP2004217423A JP2005062850A JP 2005062850 A JP2005062850 A JP 2005062850A JP 2004217423 A JP2004217423 A JP 2004217423A JP 2004217423 A JP2004217423 A JP 2004217423A JP 2005062850 A JP2005062850 A JP 2005062850A
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light
wavelength
confocal microscope
light source
laser
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JP2005062850A5 (en
JP4677208B2 (en
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Tatsuo Nakada
竜男 中田
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Olympus Corp
オリンパス株式会社
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Abstract

PROBLEM TO BE SOLVED: To provide an optical system for each wavelength band and a confocal microscope capable of making each optical adjustment unnecessary by using a fiber capable of propagating light in a wide wavelength band.
Laser light from a laser unit L having at least two lasers that generate light of different wavelengths is condensed on a sample 21 via an objective lens 19 and 2 on the sample 21 by a galvano mirror unit 10. A PCF 7 in which a large number of air holes are arranged in a clad provided around the core is used as a fiber for performing dimensional scanning and propagating light introduced from the laser unit L to the galvanometer mirror unit 10.
[Selection] Figure 1

Description

  The present invention relates to a confocal microscope that scans a sample with light from a point light source two-dimensionally and detects light from the sample.

  In a confocal microscope, light from a point light source is condensed on a sample by an objective lens, the condensing point is optically two-dimensionally scanned using a scanner, and light (particularly fluorescence) from the sample passes through the objective lens. Two-dimensional information is obtained by detecting with a photodetector.

  By the way, in such a confocal microscope, a sample labeled with a fluorescent dye or a fluorescent protein is excited using an excitation wavelength corresponding to the label.

  For this reason, when using a laser light source as a point light source, it is necessary to prepare a laser light source for every excitation wavelength range. Then, laser beams from a plurality of laser light sources are introduced into the scanning optical system, and are condensed on the sample by the objective lens via a collimator lens for each excitation wavelength region.

In this case, the focal position on the sample is adjusted by each collimating lens. In addition, the scanning optical system is provided with a light beam direction conversion element that synthesizes these laser beams using a dichroic mirror or the like in order to introduce the laser beams for each wavelength region emitted from each collimator lens into the objective lens. It has been.
JP-A-11-231222 JP-A-9-127424

  However, if an optical system having a collimating lens is used for each wavelength region, if these optical systems have variations, these variations cause deviations in the XY direction and further in the Z direction at the focal position on the sample. May occur. For this reason, precise adjustment is required to adjust the shift of the focal position on these samples, which takes a lot of labor and time. Moreover, there is a problem that using a light beam direction conversion element for synthesizing laser beams is expensive in price.

  In Patent Document 1, laser beams from a plurality of laser light sources are mixed and incident on a single optical fiber, and light emitted from the optical fiber is collected on a sample by an objective lens via a collimator lens.

  In this case, as the optical fiber, a single mode fiber is used in which light is confined in the core and propagates by utilizing a slight difference in refractive index between the core and the grad. However, such a single mode fiber has a cut-off frequency for propagating the single mode, and is subject to the following equation.

V = kf · a · NA
Here, V is a value for propagating the single mode, and it is necessary that V <2.405. kf is expressed by kf = 2π / λ and varies depending on the wavelength λ to be put into the fiber. a represents the radius of the core. Furthermore, NA is the numerical aperture that can be taken into the fiber.

  As described above, the single mode fiber has wavelength dependency, and a fiber corresponding to the wavelength region is required. This tendency becomes more conspicuous as the wavelength becomes shorter, and the wavelength dependency becomes larger. For example, when a single wavelength of 400 nm in the short wavelength region is propagated, the wavelength in the long wavelength region can be used only at about 550 nm.

  In general, in a confocal microscope, laser light in a wide wavelength range such as a UV laser, a VIOLET laser, a visible laser, or a laser having a near infrared wavelength or more is used as a light source for excitation light. In this case, even the idea disclosed in Patent Document 1 requires a plurality of fibers depending on the width of the applied wavelength range, and the same problems as described above still occur.

  On the other hand, Patent Document 2 discloses a method for propagating light of LEDs of different emission colors using a single mode fiber.

  However, the fiber used in such a method also has a core diameter of several μm when applied to the above-described single mode propagation equation. For this reason, if it is attempted to introduce light from a light source into a fiber having such a very small core diameter, the coupling efficiency is deteriorated and it is difficult to obtain the required single mode light. Incidentally, the beam diameter of generally used laser light is about 0.5 to 2, and Beam Divergence is about 0.2 to 2.

  In order to solve this problem, it is necessary to make the light emitting point of the laser light approximately the same as the core diameter of the fiber, but this causes a problem that it becomes optically difficult. Although it is conceivable to increase the core diameter of the fiber, this makes it difficult to perform a single mode operation necessary for a confocal microscope.

  The present invention has been made in view of the above circumstances, and provides a confocal microscope that can eliminate the need for an optical system for each wavelength band and optical adjustment for each wavelength band by using a fiber that enables light propagation in a wide wavelength band. For the purpose.

  A confocal microscope according to an aspect of the present invention includes a light source unit having at least two light sources that generate light having different wavelengths, an objective lens that focuses light from the light source unit on a sample, and a light source unit. An optical scanning means for two-dimensionally scanning light on the sample, and a photonic crystal fiber disposed between the light source unit and the optical scanning means and propagating light introduced from the light source unit to the scanning means side The photonic crystal fiber has a plurality of air holes arranged in a clad provided around the core.

  According to the embodiment of the present invention, it is possible to provide a confocal microscope that can eliminate the need for an optical system for each wavelength band and optical adjustment for each wavelength band by using a fiber that enables light propagation in a wide wavelength band.

  Hereinafter, embodiments of the present invention will be described with reference to the drawings.

(First embodiment)
FIG. 1 is a diagram showing a schematic configuration of a confocal microscope confocal microscope according to the first embodiment of the present invention. The confocal microscope shown in FIG. 1 includes a microscope unit M, a scanning unit SU, and a laser unit L as a light source unit.

  The laser unit L includes a laser 1a having a near infrared wavelength or more, a visible laser 1b, a VIOLET laser 1c, a UV laser 1d, and the like.

  A reflection mirror 2 is disposed on the optical path of the laser beam from the laser 1a having a near infrared wavelength or longer. Further, a dichroic mirror 3 is disposed on the intersection of the laser beam reflected by the reflection mirror 2 on the optical path of the laser beam from the visible range laser 1b. The dichroic mirror 3 combines these two laser light paths, transmits the laser light reflected by the reflection mirror 2, and reflects the laser light from the visible range laser 1b.

  On the optical path of the laser light from the VIOLET laser 1c, the dichroic mirror 4 is disposed at the intersection with the light synthesized by the dichroic mirror 3. The dichroic mirror 4 combines these two laser light paths, transmits the laser light combined by the dichroic mirror 3, and reflects the laser light from the VIOLET laser 1c.

  A dichroic mirror 5 is disposed at the intersection with the light synthesized by the dichroic mirror 4 on the optical path of the laser light from the UV laser 1d. The dichroic mirror 5 combines these two laser light paths, reflects the laser light combined by the dichroic mirror 4, transmits the laser light from the UV laser 1a, and multi-wavelength laser light on the same optical axis. Is emitted.

  An incident end of a photonic crystal fiber (hereinafter abbreviated as “PCF”) 7 is disposed through a coupling lens 6 in the light path of the multi-wavelength laser light from the dichroic mirror 5 of the laser unit L. ing.

  The coupling lens 6 condenses the laser light emitted from the dichroic mirror 5 on the incident end of the PCF 7. The PCF 7 has a clad having a structure in which a large number of air holes are regularly arranged. Details of the PCF 7 will be described later. The PCF 7 outputs multi-wavelength single mode light.

  A collimating lens 8 is disposed at the exit end of the PCF 7. The collimating lens 8 converts multi-wavelength single mode light into a parallel light beam.

  The parallel light flux from the collimating lens 8 is guided to the scanning unit SU.

  In the scanning unit SU, a wavelength division element 9 is disposed on the optical path of the parallel light flux from the collimating lens 8. The wavelength division element 9 has a characteristic of transmitting the excitation wavelength necessary for exciting the sample 21 to be described later, and reflecting the fluorescence wavelength that is excited by the sample 21 and emits fluorescence, out of the parallel light beam. Yes.

  A galvanomirror unit 10 is disposed in the optical path of the laser light (excitation wavelength light) that has passed through the wavelength division element 9. The galvanometer mirror unit 10 includes two galvanometer mirrors 10a and 10b for deflecting light in two orthogonal directions. Laser light (excitation wavelength light) is deflected in a two-dimensional direction by these galvanometer mirrors 10a and 10b.

  A confocal lens 11, a confocal pinhole 12, a dichroic mirror 13, and photoelectric conversion elements 14 and 15 that constitute confocal observation means are disposed in the reflected light path of the fluorescence from the sample 21 of the wavelength division element 9. For example, a photomultiplier is used for the photoelectric conversion elements 14 and 15.

  A microscope unit M is connected to the scanning unit SU via a relay lens 16.

  In the microscope unit M, a mirror 17 is disposed in the optical path of the laser light (excitation wavelength light) deflected by the galvanometer mirror unit 10. An imaging lens 18 and an objective lens 19 are disposed in the reflected light path of the mirror 17.

  In this case, the laser light (excitation wavelength light) reflected by the mirror 17 via the relay lens 16 and further passing through the imaging lens 18 passes through the objective lens 19 and is placed on the stage 20. Is irradiated. At this time, the light transmitted through the objective lens 19 by the imaging lens 18 is collected on the sample 21 with the light beam diameter of the collimating lens 8 and is moved in a predetermined range on the sample 21 by the movement of the galvanometer mirrors 10a and 10b. Scanned.

  Note that the laser light (excitation wavelength light) condensed on the sample 21 may be stopped and spot-irradiated depending on the application, or the scanning unit SU may be instantaneously skipped to perform a plurality of operations. An arbitrary position may be irradiated in a spot manner.

  The sample 21 emits fluorescence when a fluorescent indicator is excited by laser light (excitation wavelength light). The fluorescence reaches the wavelength division element 9 from the objective lens 19 through the imaging lens 18, the mirror 17, the relay lens 16, and the galvano mirrors 10 a and 10 b in the opposite direction to the previous optical path, and is reflected by the wavelength division element 9. Then, the light is condensed by the confocal lens 11. Then, the fluorescence of only the focal plane is selected by the pinhole 12 at the condensing position, and the light obtained by dividing the fluorescence wavelength by the dichroic mirror 13 is received by the photoelectric conversion elements 14 and 15 and imaged.

  An IR pulse laser can be used as the laser 1a having a near infrared wavelength or longer. When such an IR pulse laser is used, a fluorescence image can be acquired by two-photon absorption. Since the two-photon absorption phenomenon at this time occurs only at the imaging position, the pinhole 12 can be theoretically unnecessary.

  Next, the PCF (photonic crystal fiber) 7 will be described.

  FIG. 2 is a cross-sectional view of the PCF 7. For example, a cladding 7b made of Si is provided around a core 7a made of Ge. A number of air holes 7c are regularly arranged in the cladding 7b around the core 7a. In this case, the PCF 7 may be formed of the same material (for example, silica) for both the core 7a and the clad 7b.

  The characteristics of the PCF 7 are determined by the arrangement of the air holes 7c in the clad 7b, the number of the air holes 7c, the ratio of the air holes 7c in the entire area of the clad 7b, the diameter of the core 7a, the material of the core 7a, and the like.

PCF7 is
Lattice interval Λ: center interval of air holes 7c,
Air hole diameter d: Air hole diameter of the cladding 7b,
Core diameter 2a: the diameter of a circle circumscribing the first layer air hole at the minimum diameter of the high refractive index portion of the center defect,
Specific air hole diameter d / Λ: Ratio of d and Λ (this value is often used as a structural normalization parameter because it is related to the effective refractive index of the cladding),
Void ratio (AIR FILLING FRACTION) F: Ratio of air to high refractive index catalyst,
Normalized frequency Λ / λ: Relative size of air hole center distance with respect to wavelength (normalized frequency is used from Λ itself for description of waveguide characteristics)
Then, these relational expressions are
It is represented by

  The index-guided PCF here is the same as a normal fiber in that the guiding principle is total reflection. The difference between the two characteristics is that in the PCF 7, the effective refractive index of the clad 7b varies greatly depending on the wavelength of light. The effective refractive index of the clad 7b changes depending on the size relationship between the diameter and pitch of the air holes 7c and the wavelength. As a result, a single mode operation can be performed even if the wavelength is short, and a single mode operation can be performed no matter how large the area of the core 7a is (endless single mode ESM: ENDLESSLY-SINGLEMODE).

  Another difference is that the refractive index difference from the core 7a can be made much larger than that of a normal optical fiber. The effective refractive index of the clad 7b can be controlled by the diameter and pitch of the air holes 7c. If the air holes 7c are enlarged to increase the influence of air, the effective refractive index is greatly reduced. That is, the degree of freedom in changing the refractive index difference is much greater than that of a conventional optical fiber.

  The refractive index difference between the core 7a and the clad 7b is related to the light waveguide structure (light containment structure), and the light waveguide structure has a correlation with the waveguide dispersion of the optical fiber. From this, in the PCF 7, the waveguide dispersion can be changed over a wide range. Therefore, by combining this waveguide dispersion and material dispersion (dispersion of the fiber material itself), for example, an optical fiber having zero dispersion at a short wavelength and an optical fiber having flat dispersion over a wide wavelength band can be realized. .

  Furthermore, by providing structural anisotropy that varies the air hole diameter of the clad 7b in the XY direction, or by making the core diameter non-circular, a large polarization maintaining property is created, and a polarization maintaining fiber can be realized. it can.

  The number of waveguide modes of a normal optical fiber is given by the V value of the following formula, and single mode operation is performed when the V value is 2.4 or less.

In a normal single mode fiber, n c0 and n c1 change equally with wavelength due to material dispersion. Therefore, the value in √ in equation (3) is almost constant with respect to wavelength. As a result, the V value changes in inverse proportion to the wavelength λ. When the wavelength is shortened, the single mode condition V <2.4 is not satisfied.

  On the other hand, this formula is expressed by the following formula for PCF7.

Λ: Lattice spacing, √n 0 : Refractive index of silica, n eff : Effective refractive index of clad In this equation (4), the value of n eff in √ is wavelength dependent, so the Veff value is usually The wavelength dependence is different from that of optical fiber. This is because when the wavelength is shortened, the difference in the effective refractive index between the core and the clad becomes small, and both the values of λ and √ in the equation (4) become small and cancel each other. That is, instead of being inversely proportional to λ as in a normal optical fiber, the change due to the wavelength becomes small, and as the wavelength becomes short, the change becomes dull and approaches a constant value (maximum value). Specific air hole diameter d / Λ: When the ratio of d and Λ is small, the maximum value of the Veff value converges to a smaller value. In the case of PCF, the Veff value is 4.1 or less, and it is shown that the single mode operation is performed. The d / Λ value satisfying this condition is about 0.4 or less.

  NA is given by the following equation.

In a normal optical fiber, the refractive index difference Δn between the core and the clad hardly changes depending on the wavelength, and therefore the NA hardly changes depending on the wavelength. In contrast, in PCF7, as n eff becomes shorter, to approach the n c0, showed significant wavelength dependence, NA as the wavelength becomes shorter decreases.

  Therefore, in the case of a normal optical fiber, it is necessary to reduce the core diameter in order to achieve a single mode at a short wavelength. However, in the case of PCF7, it is possible to make a single mode at a short wavelength without reducing the core diameter. It is. In a normal optical fiber, the NA remains unchanged due to the wavelength. However, in the PCF 7, as is clear from the equation (5), the NA can be reduced as the wavelength becomes shorter.

  By using such a PCF 7, as a confocal microscope, for example, even when a VIOLET laser 1 b near 405 nm and a visible range laser of 440 to 635 nm are used at the same time, only one PCF 7 is used for scanning unit SU. The light can propagate to the side. Needless to say, even a near infrared wavelength of 1200 nm or more from an ultraviolet region of about 350 nm can be handled with only one PCF 7.

  Therefore, in this way, by using the PCF 7 as a fiber connecting the laser unit L and the scanning unit SU, light in a wide wavelength range from the near infrared wavelength range to the UV wavelength range can be obtained by one PCF 7. It is possible to propagate light to the scanning unit SU side only. That is, conventionally, when the wavelength range is widened, it is necessary to divide the fiber into predetermined wavelength ranges and propagate the light to the scanning unit. However, this can be propagated with only one minimum PCF 7.

  This means that it is not necessary to prepare each laser unit L for each wavelength region, and the laser units L can be combined into one. Therefore, the configuration of the control system for controlling the laser light is simplified, and the number of wires is also reduced. It is also possible to reduce the number of wires, and the cost can be reduced, and the number of wirings can be reduced to improve the reliability.

  Further, since light can be propagated to the scanning unit SU side by one PCF 7, it is not necessary to prepare an optical system such as a collimating lens for each predetermined wavelength range even after light is introduced into the scanning unit. Does not require optical axis adjustment. Conventionally, since the optical axis adjustment of the optical system for each wavelength range is physically performed, the optical axis shift is likely to occur due to thermal expansion or the like, but light is introduced on the same axis with only one PCF 7, Since the optical axis adjustment can be omitted, there is no optical axis deviation, and the scanning position on the sample does not change due to the optical axis deviation, so the reliability of the acquired image is high.

  Furthermore, even when a laser of another wavelength region is newly added after delivery of the microscope, it is only necessary to perform optical adjustment with the laser unit L, and the PCF 7 can be handled as it is, so that setup at the user site is easy. . Also, even if the fiber is broken due to some influence, conventionally, in addition to fiber coupling adjustment and optical adjustment for introduction into the scanning unit, further optical adjustment in the scanning unit is necessary. In the case of the PCF 7, after the replacement, only the coupling adjustment of the PCF 7 and the optical adjustment for introduction into the scanning unit are required, so that maintainability is high.

  Furthermore, conventionally, in order to introduce the laser light emitted from the collimating lens for each wavelength region in the scanning unit into the objective lens, the laser light is synthesized by a light beam direction conversion element using a dichroic mirror or the like. However, since these light direction changing elements are not required, the scanning unit can be made compact, and loss of light in the light direction changing elements can be prevented, and efficient light propagation can be performed.

  FIG. 3 is a diagram for explaining the end face processing of the PCF 7. In FIG. 3, the PCF 7 is provided with a clad 7b made of silica around a core 7a made of Ge, and a plurality of air holes 7c are arranged in the clad 7b around the core 7a. In this case, connectors (not shown) are attached to both ends of the PCF 7 for optical connection with the coupling lens 6 and the collimating lens 8. When attaching the connector, it is necessary to polish both ends of the PCF 7. However, the PCF 7 has a minute hole (air hole 7c) to give a difference in refractive index, and if the end surface of the clad 7b is polished for end surface processing, the air hole 7c is buried and the original performance cannot be obtained. End up. Therefore, the air hole 7c portion is eliminated in advance in the range of about 10 to 500 μm on the end surface of the clad 7b so that the end surface can be polished in this portion. In this case, the laser light incident through the coupling lens 6 is focused on a portion of the core 7a where the air hole 7c between the tip of the core 7a and the tip of the air hole 7c does not exist. The position corresponding to the tip of the air hole 7c on the core 7a is desirable.

  In the first embodiment, the laser unit L is provided with the laser 1a having a near infrared wavelength or more, the visible laser 1b, the VIOLET laser 1c, the UV laser 1d, etc., but there are two or more lasers. Then, the same effect as described above can be obtained.

(Second Embodiment)
Next, a second embodiment of the present invention will be described.

  FIG. 4 is a diagram showing a schematic configuration of the second embodiment of the present invention, and the same parts as those in FIG.

  In FIG. 4, the confocal microscope includes an LED light source unit LE as a light source unit in addition to the microscope unit M and the scanning unit SU.

  The LED light source unit LE is provided with a blue LED 31a, a green LED 31b, and a red LED 31c having different emission colors as light emitting diodes.

  Lights emitted from the LEDs 31a, 31b, and 31c are combined by a combining unit (not shown) and condensed as multi-wavelength light to the incident end of the PCF 7 via the coupling lens 6. The PCF 7 outputs multi-wavelength single mode light.

  Hereinafter, in the same manner as described in the first embodiment, the collimating lens 8 forms a parallel light beam, and the wavelength division element 9 transmits the excitation wavelength necessary for exciting the sample 21 out of the parallel light beam. To do.

  The light that has become the excitation wavelength light by the wavelength division element 9 is deflected in the XY directions on the surface of the sample 21 by the galvano mirror unit 10, passes through the relay lens 16, and enters the mirror 17. The light reflected by the mirror 17 passes through the objective lens 19 from the imaging lens 18 and is condensed on the sample 21, and is scanned within a predetermined range on the sample 21 by the movement of the galvanometer mirrors 10a and 10b.

  As in the first embodiment, the laser light (excitation wavelength light) focused on the sample 21 may be stopped and irradiated spot-wise depending on the application, or the scanning unit SU may be irradiated instantaneously. Alternatively, a skip operation may be performed to irradiate a plurality of arbitrary positions in a spot manner.

  When the fluorescent indicator is excited by laser light (excitation wavelength light) irradiated on the sample 21, fluorescence is emitted. This fluorescence is reflected by the wavelength dividing element 9 from the objective lens 19 through the imaging lens 18, the mirror 17, the relay lens 16, and the galvano mirrors 10a and 10b in the direction opposite to the previous optical path, and is reflected by the confocal lens 11. Focused. Then, the fluorescence of only the focal plane is selected by the pinhole 12 at the condensing position, and the light obtained by dividing the fluorescence wavelength by the dichroic mirror 13 is received by the photoelectric conversion elements 14 and 15 and imaged.

  In this case, the LED light source unit LE having LEDs 31a, 31b, and 31c having different emission colors is used as the light source unit, and the scanning unit SU is connected to the scanning unit SU by the PCF 7, so that point scanning without using a laser is performed. A scanning confocal microscope can be realized.

  LED light from the LED light source unit LE is introduced into the PCF 7, but since the core diameter of the PCF 7 can be made larger than a conventional single mode fiber (for example, about several tens of μm), the coupling efficiency should be improved. Therefore, the necessary single mode light can be obtained with a confocal microscope.

  Since the confocal microscope can be configured by using the LEDs 31a, 31b, and 31c of the LED light source unit LE as the light source, the price can be reduced. In addition, the LEDs 31a, 31b, and 31c consume less power than a laser and can save energy. Furthermore, since the LEDs 31a, 31b, and 31c are very small, a compact light source can be realized. Therefore, in FIG. 4, the LED light source unit LE is configured separately from the scanning unit SU. However, the LED light source unit LE can also be incorporated in the scanning unit SU, and further downsizing can be realized by integration.

  The LEDs 31a, 31b, 31c of the LED light source unit LE can be turned on / off only by turning on / off the voltage. Further, in order to change the luminance, the current can be varied, or the pulse can be turned on / off. It is also possible to change the brightness by modulation, which makes it easy to dimm. This has conventionally required a special mechanism for dimming control. However, since this can be realized only by an electric control circuit, it can be made compact and inexpensive.

  The LEDs 31a, 31b, and 31c have an effect that the lifetime is longer and the maintenance cost of the system is lower than that of the laser.

  LEDs having various wavelengths as compared with lasers have been put into practical use, and there is an advantage that the degree of freedom in wavelength selection is high with respect to the excitation wavelength of the sample 21.

  An LED has a wider wavelength width than a laser. Therefore, wavelength selectivity can be improved by combining with a wavelength selection element such as a BA filter or AOTF and converting it to a required wavelength width.

  On the other hand, in FIG. 4, the LED light source unit LE is provided with only the LEDs 31a, 31b, and 31c. However, when strong light is required by combining laser light sources, a laser may be used and weak light may be used. It is possible to improve the convenience of using the LED.

(Third embodiment)
Next, a third embodiment of the present invention will be described.

  When a conventional fiber is used, wavelength correction of the coupling lens and the collimating lens is not performed. This is because NA has almost no wavelength dependence in the conventional fiber.

  However, in the PCF 7 used in the first embodiment, NA has wavelength dependency. For this reason, the coupling lens 6 and the collimating lens 8 need to be designed in consideration of wavelength dependency. In other words, the coupling lens 6 and the collimating lens 8 need to be such that the coupling action or the collimating action does not depend on the wavelength with respect to the core 7a of the PCF 7. Therefore, it is necessary to use a lens configuration that corrects the characteristics so that the NA is small for the short wavelength region and the NA is large for the long wavelength region. Incidentally, as shown in FIG. 5, when the NA of the PCF 7 is substantially constant, the collimating lens 8 has different light spreads depending on different wavelengths λ1, λ2, and λ3. The wavelength here is λ1 <λ2 <λ3.

  Therefore, in the third embodiment, as the coupling lens 6 and the collimating lens 8, a lens whose NA varies depending on the wavelength (for example, a lens having a predetermined amount of chromatic aberration) is used. In this way, it is possible to optimize the coupling efficiency by the coupling lens 6 and the parallelism of the collimated light by the collimating lens 8. In other words, since the coupling efficiency of the coupling lens 6 can be improved, the loss of light incident on the PCF 7 can be reduced, and it is not necessary to use a light source with high light intensity, and energy saving can be achieved. . Further, the collimating lens can also be made to have a substantially uniform beam diameter while maintaining the parallelism of the light, so that the loss of light incident on the objective lens 19 can be minimized and guided to the sample 21. It is possible to improve the excitation efficiency.

(Modification of the third embodiment)
The beam spot diameter formed by the objective lens 19 depends on the wavelength λ of light and the numerical aperture NA. The shorter the wavelength λ, the smaller the beam spot diameter. Therefore, the wavelength characteristic of the optical system including the collimating lens 8 after the PCF 7 is optically adjusted so as to cancel out the variation of the spot diameter due to the light wavelength λ by adjusting the numerical aperture NA (that is, the incident beam diameter to the objective lens). Compensate. Thereby, the spot diameters of the light from the objective lens 19 can be made equal regardless of the wavelength λ. Therefore, the influence of the wavelength on the resolution can be eliminated.

(Fourth embodiment)
Next, a fourth embodiment of the present invention will be described.

  By the way, although the regular air holes are opened in the PCF 7, there is a case where the light propagation having the polarization characteristics required by the confocal microscope cannot be obtained.

  Therefore, in the PCF 7 of the fourth embodiment, as shown in FIGS. 6A and 6B, the arrangement of the air holes 7c formed in the cladding 7b around the core 7a is arranged in the vertical V direction and the horizontal H. Different in direction is used.

  According to such a PCF 7, it becomes possible to propagate light having a wavelength having a polarization characteristic in a single mode while maintaining the polarization characteristic.

  The arrangement of the air holes 7c in the vertical V direction and the horizontal H direction is, for example, hexagonal as shown in FIG. 7 (a), rectangular as shown in FIG. 7 (b), and elliptical as shown in FIG. 7 (c). Various things are possible.

  Accordingly, if this is done, light propagation with a wavelength that maintains the polarization characteristics by the PCF 7 becomes possible, and therefore, DIC observation can be easily performed with a confocal microscope. If the polarization characteristics cannot be maintained by the PCF 7, a separate wavelength plate or the like is required. However, by enabling the light propagation with the polarization characteristics maintained by the PCF 7, the wavelength plate becomes unnecessary. This can eliminate the loss of light at the wave plate, and thus a brighter and more efficient system can be constructed.

(Fifth embodiment)
Although the PCF has a wide transmission band, it can transmit light as a single mode with a bandwidth of about 150 to 200 nm. As shown in FIG. 8, the short wavelength side of the wavelength band of the PCF is limited by a cutoff wavelength, and the long wavelength side is limited by a bent edge (bending loss due to bending stress).

  Since normally used PCF is for communication, usable bands are in the infrared and far infrared regions, and the off wavelength is about 700 nm. However, it is necessary to use the laser microscope in the visible region and the infrared region.

  Therefore, by providing air holes 7d and 7e having different diameters as shown in FIG. 9, the influence of bending stress and cut-off can be controlled to enable single mode propagation in the visible region.

  In addition, this invention is not limited to the said embodiment, In the implementation stage, it can change variously in the range which does not change the summary.

  Furthermore, the above embodiments include inventions at various stages, and various inventions can be extracted by appropriately combining a plurality of disclosed constituent elements. For example, even if some constituent requirements are deleted from all the constituent requirements shown in the embodiment, the problem described in the column of the problem to be solved by the invention can be solved, and is described in the column of the effect of the invention. If the above effect is obtained, a configuration from which this configuration requirement is deleted can be extracted as an invention.

  The embodiments described above include the following inventions.

(1) In the photonic crystal fiber, a coupling lens is disposed on the incident end side, and a collimating lens is disposed on the exit end side.

(2) One photonic crystal fiber is provided for at least two light sources.

  According to the embodiment of the present invention, for example, light in a wide wavelength range from the near-infrared wavelength range to the UV wavelength range can be propagated in a single mode to the optical scanning means side with only one PCF. Even after the light is introduced into the optical scanning means side, it is not necessary to prepare an optical system for each wavelength region, and optical axis adjustment for each wavelength region is not required. Thereby, the optical axis is not displaced, and the scanning position on the sample is not changed by the optical axis displacement. Furthermore, even when a laser of another wavelength region is newly added after delivery of the microscope, it is only necessary to perform optical adjustment with the light source unit, and the PCF can be handled as it is without requiring replacement or expansion of the PCF itself. Therefore, setup at the user site is easy. In the above embodiment, an example in which light in the wavelength range from the near infrared wavelength range to the UV wavelength range is propagated in the single mode to the optical scanning unit side by the PCF has been described. Light in the wavelength range up to the wavelength range may be propagated.

  Further, according to the embodiment of the present invention, a relatively large point light source such as a light emitting diode can be used by using a PCF having a large core diameter (for example, about several tens of μm). In addition, a point-scan confocal microscope can be realized by using light emitting diodes having different emission colors as the light source unit.

  Furthermore, according to the embodiment of the present invention, the spot diameter of light from the objective lens can be made uniform, and the influence of wavelength resolution can be eliminated.

  Furthermore, according to the embodiment of the present invention, it is possible to propagate light having a wavelength with polarization characteristics maintained by the PCF.

The figure which shows schematic structure of the confocal microscope which concerns on the 1st Embodiment of this invention. The figure which shows schematic structure of PCF used by 1st Embodiment. The figure for demonstrating the end surface process of PCF used by 1st Embodiment. The figure which shows schematic structure of the confocal microscope which concerns on the 2nd Embodiment of this invention. The figure for demonstrating the characteristic of the collimating lens used for the 3rd Embodiment of this invention. The figure which shows schematic structure of PCF used for the 4th Embodiment of this invention. The figure which shows schematic structure of the modification of 4th Embodiment. The figure which showed the wavelength characteristic of PCF. The figure which shows schematic structure of PCF used for the 5th Embodiment of this invention.

Explanation of symbols

M ... Microscope unit SU ... Scanning unit L ... Laser unit 1a ... Laser with near infrared wavelength or more, 1b ... Visible range laser, 1c ... VIOLET laser, 1d ... UV laser 2 ... Reflection mirror 3, 4, 5 ... Dichroic mirror 6 ... Coupling lens, 7 ... PCF
7a ... core, 7b ... clad, 7c ... air hole 8 ... collimating lens, 9 ... wavelength division element 10 ... galvanometer mirror unit, 10a. DESCRIPTION OF SYMBOLS 10b ... Galvano mirror 11 ... Confocal lens, 12 ... Confocal pinhole 13 ... Dichroic mirror, 14.15 ... Photoelectric conversion element 16 ... Relay lens, 17 ... Mirror, 18 ... Imaging lens 19 ... Objective lens, 20 ... Stage 21 Sample 31a. 31b, 31d ... LED

Claims (11)

  1. A light source unit having at least two light sources that generate light of different wavelengths;
    An objective lens for condensing the light from the light source unit on the sample;
    Light scanning means for two-dimensionally scanning light from the light source unit on the sample;
    A photonic crystal fiber disposed between the light source unit and the light scanning means and propagating light introduced from the light source unit to the scanning means side;
    The confocal microscope characterized in that the photonic crystal fiber has a plurality of air holes arranged in a clad provided around a core.
  2. 2. The confocal microscope according to claim 1, wherein the plurality of air holes are not formed to a predetermined distance from an end face of the photonic crystal fiber.
  3. The confocal microscope according to claim 2, wherein the predetermined distance is 50 to 500 μm.
  4. The confocal microscope according to claim 1 or 2, wherein the plurality of air holes include an air hole having a first diameter and an air hole having a second diameter different from the first diameter. A confocal microscope.
  5. 2. The confocal microscope according to claim 1, wherein at least one of at least two light sources of the light source unit is a light emitting diode.
  6. The confocal microscope according to claim 1, wherein at least two light sources of the light source unit are light emitting diodes.
  7. 5. The confocal microscope according to claim 1, wherein a wavelength of an optical system subsequent to the photonic crystal fiber with respect to a wavelength characteristic of NA on the photonic crystal fiber side is set. A confocal microscope characterized in that the characteristics are optically compensated.
  8. 8. The confocal microscope according to claim 7, wherein the NA of the light beam emitted from the objective lens is adjusted according to the wavelength by optical compensation of the optical system, and the spot diameter formed by the objective lens does not depend on the wavelength. A confocal microscope characterized by being constant.
  9. 3. The confocal microscope according to claim 1, wherein the photonic crystal fiber has a polarization characteristic of a wavelength in which an arrangement of air holes formed in a cladding around a core is different in a vertical direction and a horizontal direction. A confocal microscope characterized by having
  10. The confocal microscope according to claim 1,
    The light source unit generates light in the visible range and light in at least one band of violet, ultraviolet, near infrared, or infrared,
    The photonic crystal fiber transmits light generated by the light source unit to the optical scanning unit using only one photonic crystal fiber.
  11. The confocal microscope according to claim 1 or 2, further comprising a collimating lens that collimates the light emitted from the photonic crystal fiber,
    By changing the NA of the collimating lens depending on the wavelength, the wavelength dependence of the NA of the photonic crystal fiber is compensated.
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