JP4362631B2 - Variable wavelength light generator - Google Patents

Variable wavelength light generator Download PDF

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JP4362631B2
JP4362631B2 JP2005371711A JP2005371711A JP4362631B2 JP 4362631 B2 JP4362631 B2 JP 4362631B2 JP 2005371711 A JP2005371711 A JP 2005371711A JP 2005371711 A JP2005371711 A JP 2005371711A JP 4362631 B2 JP4362631 B2 JP 4362631B2
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variable wavelength
wave number
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基 中西
裕之 古川
康二 大林
卓治 天野
丈夫 宮澤
東学 崔
秀明 廣岡
公也 清水
文良 狩野
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学校法人北里研究所
日本電信電話株式会社
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The present invention relates to a tunable wavelength light generating equipment of the optical coherence tomography apparatus.

(1) Optical interference tomography (OCT)
Optical coherence tomography (OCT) using low-coherent light is a new medical measurement technique that makes it possible to observe a tomographic image near the surface of a living body with a resolution of about a dozen μm. OCT has already been put to practical use in clinical observation of ocular tissues, and enables tomographic observation of ocular tissue lesions (for example, retinal detachment) with microscopic accuracy (Non-Patent Document 1). Although the clinical application of this technology has just begun, future development is expected, such as the development of tomographic observation inside the living body in combination with an endoscope.
OCT currently in practical use is a measurement technique that requires mechanical scanning called OCDR (Optical Coherence Domain Reflectometory) -OCT. On the other hand, it is called FD (Frequency Domain) -OCT (referred to as OFDR (Optical Frequency Domain Reflectometory) -OCT, which is hereinafter referred to as FD method in order to prevent confusion with the present invention). Technology has recently begun to be studied. Each technique will be described below.

(2) OCDR-OCT
The measurement principle of OCDR-OCT is that the sample (living body) 1 is irradiated with the measurement light 2 as shown in FIG. 7, and the light is reflected by the tissue boundary surface 3 inside the sample 1 (or backscattered, hereinafter simply referred to as “reflection”). ) And the optical path length that passes through before being emitted out of the sample 1 is measured by a Michelson interferometer using a low-coherent light source as a light source. That is, as shown in FIG. 7, a part of the light 2 incident on the sample 1 is reflected by the change in the refractive index of the tissue boundary surface 3 and re-emitted out of the sample 1. By measuring the optical path length through which the re-emitted light 4 has passed, the structure in the depth direction inside the sample 1 can be known (the position of the surface of the sample 1 that is the reference point of the depth). Is given by the surface reflected light.) Accordingly, by scanning the incident position of the measuring light 2 with respect to the surface of the sample 1, a cross-sectional image or a three-dimensional image inside the sample 1 can be obtained.

FIG. 8 is a schematic diagram of the OCDR-OCT apparatus. As shown in FIG. 8, a super luminescence diode (SLD) is usually used as the light source 5, and the emitted light is incident on the Michelson interferometer 6. This light is split by a beam splitter 7, one of which is converged into a thin beam and irradiates the sample 1. The other divided light is applied to the reference light mirror 8. The respective lights are reflected by the sample 1 and the reference light mirror 8 and are combined by the beam splitter 7, and then enter the photodetector 9. Since the wavelength spectrum width of SLD is as wide as ˜20 nm, the coherent length of the emitted light is as short as several tens μm (for example, the coherent length of SLD light having a center wavelength of 850 nm and a wavelength width of 20 nm is 15 μm). For this reason, only when the optical path lengths of the reference light 10 and the signal light 11 are within the range of this short coherent length, they interfere with each other. That is, when the reference light mirror 8 is scanned in the optical axis direction of the reference light 10, the output of the photodetector 9 is only the vicinity 14 where the optical path lengths of the reference light 10 and the signal light 11 coincide with each other. The output of the detector 9, and the horizontal axis 13 indicates an interference pattern 15 (hereinafter referred to as “coherent interference waveform”) having a width of about the coherent length, such as the movement distance of the reference light mirror 8. The optical path length of the signal light 11 can be directly known from the position of the reference light mirror 8 where the coherent interference waveform 15 appears.
The resolution of this method is determined by the coherent length of the light source used, and is usually about 10 to 15 μm. The time required for one measurement is determined by the time required for scanning the reference light mirror 8, and is usually about 1 second at the fastest (Non-Patent Document 1).

(3) FD-OCT
In OCDR-OCT, mechanical scanning of the reference light mirror 8 is indispensable, so mechanical vibration is inevitable, the scanning distance at a high speed is limited, and the scanning speed is also limited. Since the scanning speed is limited, there is a problem that the sample (living body) must be stopped during the measurement. For this reason, application other than cross-sectional observation of ocular tissue that is relatively easy to restrain is not easy.
As an attempt to eliminate the need for scanning of the reference light mirror 8, the grating 21 and the CCD 16 are arranged on the output side of the Michelson interferometer as shown in FIG. 10, and the spectral characteristics of the output light are measured while the reference light mirror 8 is fixed. The frequency domain (Frequency Domain) OCT (hereinafter referred to as FD-OCT), which calculates and constructs a coherent waveform from the result, is referred to as OFDR-OCT in previous literature. (Referred to as “FD-OCT”, which uses the recent name) (Non-Patent Document 2).

The principle of FD-OCT is as follows. First, the measurement light 18 that is collected horizontally is irradiated onto the surface 17 of the sample 1, while the reference light 11 is returned to the beam splitter 7 by the reference light mirror 8. In this state, the signal light 10 and the reference light 11 are combined to form an image on the CCD 16 screen. At this time, a fringe (spatial interference pattern) occurs on the CCD 16 surface. The fringe intensity is observed and the pattern is Fourier transformed by a computer to construct a coherent interference waveform. Note that focusing / imaging of measurement light or the like is performed by two cylindrical lenses 19 that condense only in the x′-axis direction and one cylindrical lens 20 that condenses only in the y′-axis direction.
In FD-OCT, since the movement of the reference beam mirror 8 is unnecessary, the measurement time is short, and an example of short-time observation of about 150 msec has been reported. However, this method also has the following problems.

(Problem 1) The horizontal resolution is low (horizontal resolution; about 100 μm).
When calculating the spectral density function, the calculation is performed on the assumption that the reflecting surface is spread to a certain depth inside the sample. Therefore, the depth of the reflecting surface is abrupt with respect to the horizontal direction (y′-axis direction). An accurate spectral density function cannot be obtained with a changing sample. Therefore, the resolution in the direction horizontal to the surface of the sample (y′-axis direction) is not high, and only a value of about 100 μm is reported.

(Problem 2) The measurement range in the depth direction is narrow (measurement range: ± 6.0 mm).
The measurable range L m in the depth direction is determined by the coherent length for each frequency component detected by the CCD. If the spectral width of each frequency component is Δf and c is the speed of light, the measurable range L m is given by equation (1) (according to the equation described in Non-Patent Document 2). However, what is called a measurement range here is not a measurable range with respect to the depth direction of the sample, but represents the measurable range by the optical path difference between the light irradiated on the sample and the reference light. Therefore, the measurement range described in Non-Patent Document 2 is twice the measurement range with respect to the depth direction of the sample.

  In FD-OCT, Δf depends on <CCD pixel width> in the frequency axis direction (x-axis). When a SLD having a coherent length of 34 μm is used as a light source, and a CCD having a number of pixels in the frequency axis direction of 640 and a pixel interval of 13.3 μm is used, the measurement range calculated from Equation (1) is ± 9.0 mm (non- Patent Document 2). However, the optical path difference (OPD) between the signal light 10 and the reference light 11 after being split by the beam splitter 7 increases as the distance from zero on the y-axis increases. Fringe averaging occurs near the pixel width. As a result, the S / N ratio is lowered, and the range in which a clear coherent interference waveform can be constructed is up to an OPD range of ± 6.0 mm (6.0 mm in the depth direction).

(Problem 3) In the measurement using a living body as a sample, the intensity of light that can be irradiated onto the sample is limited.
Therefore, it is important how to detect the signal light efficiently. However, in FD-OCT, since the signal light passes through the diffraction grating 21 and then enters the photodetector (CCD), there is a problem that a part of the signal light is lost by the diffraction grating 21 and the detection efficiency of the signal light is poor. .
(Problem 4) In the case of detection using a CCD, there is a report that the dynamic range representing the number of measurable intensity digits is about 70 dB or less, and it can be applied to the measurement of the retina. Is not necessarily enough.
(Problem 5) Further, there is a problem that the measurement time is limited by the speed of the CCD and there is a limit to speeding up the measurement.

JP-A-6-53616 JP-A-6-61578 United States Patent 4,896,325 Chen Jianmei OPTRONICS (2002) NO7,179 Yuichi Teramura, Masayuki Suekuni, Fumihiko Kanari; Proceeding of 23rd Meeting on Lightwave Sensing Technology, p39) Handbook of Optical Coherence Tomography (edited by Brett E. Bouma and Guillermo J. Tearney) Applied Physics: Volume 71, Volume 11, p1362 Yuzo Yoshikuni

The reason that OCDR-OCT could be put to practical use in fundus measurement is that the measurement object was relatively easy to restrain. However, there are many parts of the living body that involve movements that are difficult to stop, such as peristalsis of the digestive tract. For observation of such a part, conventional tomographic observation by OCT (both OCDR-OCT and FD-OCT) is not suitable.
For example, when observing a part that moves at a speed of several mm / sec with OCDR-OCT, the distance (several mm) that the observation object moves during the measurement time (approximately 1 second) is significantly higher than the resolution (several tens of μm). Because of its large size, it is impossible to take a tomogram.
Compared with OCDR-OCT, tomography by FD-OCT is faster, but the currently obtained measurement time (150 msec) is still insufficient for the measurement of the above-mentioned part. This is because the process of constructing the coherent interference waveform is complicated and takes a long time for computer processing. In other words, the current OCT has a problem that none is suitable for observing a living body part that is difficult to stop. Further, as described above, there is a problem that the horizontal resolution is low and the measurement range in the depth direction is narrow.

  An object of the present invention is to provide an OCT technique that solves the above-mentioned problems and enables tomographic observation of a living body part that is difficult to restrain. It is another object of the present invention to provide a tomographic observation technique that eliminates the burden on the living body and eliminates the need for restraint even when observing the restrainable part.

The configuration of the present invention for solving the above-described problems is as follows.
In other words, the variable wavelength light generator of the first invention comprises means for dividing the output light of the variable wavelength light generator into a first light beam and a second light beam, and means for irradiating the measurement object with the first light beam. , A means for combining the first light beam and the second light beam reflected or backscattered by the measurement object, and an intensity of the output light combined by the means for combining is output from the variable wavelength light generator. A means for measuring for each wave number of light, and a position where the first light beam is reflected or backscattered by the measurement object from the set of intensity of the combined output light obtained for each wave number by the means for measuring, or Means for specifying the position and intensity with respect to the depth direction of the measurement object, and the means for irradiating the measurement object with the first light beam can scan the irradiation position of the first light beam with respect to the measurement object And is specified by the specifying means. An optical interference tomography device comprising means for simultaneously controlling the construction of a tomographic image of the measurement object, switching of the wave number, and scanning of the first light beam based on the obtained information and information on the irradiation position The variable wavelength light generator is characterized in that the wave number can be switched stepwise by the control by the controlling means.
The variable wavelength light generator of the second invention is the variable wavelength light generator of the first invention, wherein the specifying means performs a Fourier transform on a combination of a real number composed of the intensity of the output light and the wave number. It is characterized by being.
Further, the variable wavelength light generator of the third invention is the variable wavelength light generator of the first invention, wherein the specifying means performs Fourier transform on a combination of the real number consisting of the intensity of the output light and the wave number. It is characterized by taking an absolute value.
The variable wavelength light generator of the fourth invention is the variable wavelength light generator of any of the first to third inventions, wherein the optical interference tomography device constructs a plurality of tomographic images to be measured. And a means for constructing a moving image of a tomographic image to be measured.
According to a fifth aspect of the present invention, there is provided a variable wavelength light generator that returns a sample optical path that guides the output light of the variable wavelength light generator to the sample without being divided, and a part of the output light of the sample optical path along the sample optical path. A partial reflection mechanism; a light detection optical path for guiding reflected light or backscattered light from the sample along the sample optical path and reflected light from the partial reflection mechanism to a light detection means; and the output light irradiated on the sample. Means for scanning the position; means for capturing the output of the light detection means detected for each wave number of output light of the variable wavelength light generator into a computer; and constructing a tomographic image of the sample by processing of the computer; Based on the output of the light detection means detected for each wave number of the output light of the variable wavelength light generator, the construction of the tomographic image of the measurement object, the switching of the wave number, and the scanning of the irradiation position of the output light are simultaneously controlled. Has means to Wherein a variable wavelength light generating apparatus of the coherence tomography device, and wherein the switchable wavenumbers stepwise by the control by means of the control.
According to a sixth aspect of the present invention, there is provided a variable wavelength light generation apparatus that includes a sample optical path that guides output light from the variable wavelength light generation apparatus to a sample without being divided, and a desired polarization characteristic in the sample optical path. A partial reflection mechanism for reflecting a part of the output light along the sample light polarization specifying mechanism for irradiating the sample with the output light transmitted through the partial reflection mechanism in the sample optical path after giving the desired polarization characteristics; A light detection optical path that guides reflected light or backscattered light from the sample and reflected light from the partial reflection mechanism to a means for dividing the incident light into two components whose polarization directions are orthogonal to each other; and the polarization direction of the incident light is orthogonal Detected for each wave number of output light of the variable wavelength light generator, means for optically detecting two outputs of the means for dividing into two components, means for scanning the position of the output light irradiated on the sample, and The means for detecting light Each output is taken into a computer, and the output of the light detecting means detected for each wave number of the output light of the variable wavelength light generator by means of a computer calculation process and constructing a tomographic image showing the polarization characteristics of the sample On the basis of the variable wavelength light generator of the optical interference tomography device comprising means for simultaneously controlling the construction of the tomographic image of the measurement object, the switching of the wave number, and the scanning of the irradiation position of the output light, The wave number can be switched stepwise by the control by the controlling means.
Further, the variable wavelength light generator of the seventh invention is the variable wavelength light generator of the fifth or sixth invention, wherein the calculation process performs a Fourier transform on a real number combination of the output and the wave number. Features.
Further, the variable wavelength light generator of the eighth invention is the variable wavelength light generator of the fifth or sixth invention, wherein the calculation process is performed by Fourier transforming a real number combination of the output and the wave number. It is characterized by taking values.
The variable wavelength light generator of the ninth invention is the variable wavelength light generator of any of the fifth to eighth inventions, wherein the computer constructs a plurality of the tomograms to obtain a sample tomogram. It is characterized by constructing a video.
The variable wavelength light generator of the tenth invention uses a variable wavelength laser as a light emitting element constituting the variable wavelength light generator in the variable wavelength light generator of any of the first to ninth inventions. It is characterized by.
The variable wavelength light generator of the eleventh aspect of the invention is the variable wavelength light generator of any one of the first to tenth aspects of the invention, wherein a super-periodic structure diffraction grating is used as a light emitting element constituting the variable wavelength light generator. A distributed reflection type semiconductor laser is used.
The variable wavelength light generator of the twelfth aspect of the invention is the variable wavelength light generator of any one of the first to tenth aspects of the invention, wherein a sampled grating distribution is used as a light emitting element constituting the variable wavelength light generator. A reflection type semiconductor laser is used.
Further, the variable wavelength light generator of the thirteenth invention is the variable wavelength light generator of any of the first to tenth inventions, wherein the means for controlling is scanning of the irradiation position of the first light beam or The width, frequency width, wave number interval, and time interval of the variable range of wave numbers can be controlled simultaneously with the scanning of the irradiation position of the output light.
In addition, means for solving the above-described problems are as follows.
(1) First Means The first means for solving the above problem is to use <a variable wavelength light generator for optical interference tomography having means capable of switching the wave number in a stepped manner>. Such means enables tomographic imaging at high speed.

(2) Second means The second means for solving the above-mentioned problem is as follows: <Wave width of variable range is 4.7 × 10 −2 μm −1 or more and output light frequency width is 13 GHz or less. Wavelength light generating apparatus, comprising means capable of stepwise switching the wave number at a wave number interval of 3.1 × 10 −4 μm −1 or less and a time interval of 530 μs or less Is used as a light source for optical interference tomography. By using this variable wavelength light source (variable wavelength light generator) as a light source for optical interference tomography, it becomes possible to perform tomographic observation of a living body part that is difficult to restrain. Here, the wave number is obtained by multiplying the reciprocal of the wavelength by 2π.

(3) Third means The third means for solving the above-mentioned problem is as follows: <Variable range of wavenumber is not less than 4.7 × 10 −2 μm −1 and the frequency width of emitted light is not more than 52 GHz. Wavelength light generating apparatus, comprising: means capable of switching the wave number in a stepwise manner at a wave number interval of 12.4 × 10 −4 μm −1 or less and a time interval of 530 μs or less Is used as a light source for optical interference tomography. By using this variable wavelength light source (variable wavelength light generator) as a light source for optical interference tomography, the measurable distance is shorter than that of the second means, but the body part that is difficult to restrain is moved faster. Tomographic observation is possible.

(A) Effect of “having means capable of switching wave number in steps” In conventional OCT, broadband (low coherent) direct current light (CW light) emitted from SLD is used as measurement light, and interference in OCDR-OCT For the pattern (FIG. 9), fringe (FIG. 11) was measured by FD-OCT. On the other hand, according to the constituent requirement of this means “having means capable of switching the wave number in a stepped manner”, the wave number of the light source used for the measurement is changed stepwise as shown in FIG. It is possible to measure the response of the interferometer at. With this feature, as described below, the tomography can be accelerated and the horizontal resolution can be improved. Also, the tomography speed is limited by the decrease in signal intensity detection efficiency due to the presence of the diffraction grating, which has been a problem in FD-OCT, the insufficient dynamic range due to the performance of the CCD, and the response speed of the CCD. Various problems are solved.

In FIG. 1A, the wave number gradually increases with respect to the wave number scanning time. However, it is not always necessary to increase gradually, and there is no problem even if it gradually decreases as shown in FIG. In addition, the wave number does not necessarily change gradually, as long as all the predetermined wave numbers can be scanned within the measurement time. That is, the change in wave number may be irregular as shown in FIG. 1 (c) (because it is easy to rearrange the wave numbers in the process of computer processing after measurement). That is, the stepped shape includes not only the case where the wave number gradually increases stepwise with respect to time but also the case where the wave number gradually decreases. Furthermore, the wave number does not necessarily change gradually, and includes all scanning modes in which all predetermined wave numbers are scanned within the measurement time. Here, the “predetermined wave number” is preferably <a set of wave numbers arranged at equal intervals>, but is not necessarily limited thereto, and may be a set of wave numbers whose wave number intervals are not constant. If the wave number interval is not constant, a certain correction to the calculation process for tomographic image construction described later in Embodiment 1 is required. This correction requires knowledge about Fourier transform depending on the wave number scanning mode. It can be guided as a basis. As described above, the “means capable of switching the wave number in a stepped manner” does not limit the wave number interval and the measurement order on condition that a tomographic image can be constructed.
The change in wave number is desirably discrete, but the change may be continuous as long as a specific wave number can be maintained for a certain period of time.

Since the measurement process of this means does not require scanning of the reference light mirror, which is essential for OCDR-OCT, measurement can be performed at a higher speed than OCDR-OCT.
On the other hand, in this means , since a coherent interference waveform is constructed from the spectral characteristics (FIG. 2) obtained by bundling the output light intensity of the interferometer at each wave number, the spectral density including both intensity information and phase information as in FD-OCT. There is no need to compute the function to construct a coherent interference waveform. For this reason, in this means , a coherent interference waveform can be constructed by simple computer processing. Further, since the calculation of the spectral density function itself is unnecessary, the data processing can be completed in a short time compared to the conventional FD-OCT, and high-speed measurement can be performed (Note that the calculation processing used in this means is described in the first embodiment. explain.).

In addition, the assumption that the horizontal resolution of the conventional FD-OCT is deteriorated in order to calculate the spectral density function (the depth distribution is uniform in the horizontal direction) is not necessary in this means , and therefore the resolution in the horizontal direction is not required. There is no degradation.
That is, the tomography performed using this means does not involve a mechanical operation such as scanning of the reference light mirror, and the tomography using this means can construct a coherent interference waveform with a simple procedure as will be described later. Therefore, it is possible to speed up tomography. Further, in tomography performed using this means , there is no assumption that the resolution in the horizontal direction is deteriorated as in the conventional FD-OCT, so there is no deterioration in the horizontal resolution.
Furthermore, it was a problem peculiar to FD-OCT using a diffraction grating and a CCD <due to a decrease in signal intensity detection efficiency due to the presence of the diffraction grating, an insufficient dynamic range due to the performance of the CCD, and a response speed of the CCD. The various problems that the tomographic speed is limited> are naturally solved in this means that does not require a diffraction grating and a CCD.

Furthermore, as described in paragraph [0097], according to the present means , the intensity of the coherent interference waveform obtained under the condition that the intensity of light that can be irradiated onto the sample is limited to a maximum value is higher than that of the OCDR method. As a result, the signal intensity is about 100 to 1000 times stronger, and an effect that the signal intensity is about ten times stronger than the FD-OCT method is achieved.

Note that chirp OCT has been proposed as an OCT that looks similar to this means (Non-Patent Document 3, p364-367). Since this technique has the following problems, it has not been put into practical use and will not be described in detail. However, there are the following differences between this means and this technique.

That is, chirp OCT matches this means in that the light source is a variable wavelength light source, but differs in that the wave number of the light source is continuously swept at a constant speed. From the measurement principle, the light source used for chirp OCT has a disadvantage that the wave number jump, that is, the mode hop is not allowed. Therefore, when chirp OCT is put into practical use, it is necessary to obtain a mode hop-free light source over a wide wavenumber range, but it is difficult to obtain such a light source. For this reason, this technology has not been put to practical use. On the other hand, according to the present means , it is not necessary to continuously change the wave number, and even if there are some mode hops in the variable wavelength light source, the change in the wave number may be a stepped shape, so that tomographic image measurement is possible. Will not cause any problems.

(B) Effect of limiting the wavenumber range, etc. As described above, this means is suitable for speeding up tomography, but particularly <the width of the variable range of wavenumber is 4.7 × 10 −2 μm −1 or more and the emitted light Variable wavelength light generator having a frequency width of 13 GHz or less, and having means capable of stepwise switching the wave number at a wave number interval of 3.1 × 10 −4 μm −1 and a time interval of 530 μs or less By limiting the variable wavelength light generator to be used to the light generator>, it is possible to observe a moving sample at a speed of 1 mm / second or less while ensuring a resolution of 80 μm and a measurement range of 10 mm. That is, according to the first means, it is possible to observe a biological part that is difficult to stop at 1 mm / second.

Further, in particular, a variable wavelength light generator in which the width of the variable range of the wave number is 4.7 × 10 −2 μm −1 or more and the frequency width of the emitted light is 52 GHz or less, which is 12.4 × 10 −4 μm − By limiting the variable wavelength light generator to be used to a variable wavelength light generator having means capable of switching the wave number in a stepwise manner with a wave number interval of 1 or less and a time interval of 530 μs or less, a resolution of 80 μm and a measurement range 2 It is possible to observe a sample moving at a speed of 4 mm / second or less while securing 5 mm. That is, according to the third means, it is possible to observe a living body part that moves at 4 mm / second and is difficult to stop. The reason why these effects are achieved will be described below.

If the sample moves during measurement, the position of the reflecting surface inside the sample is not fixed, and the measured value of the reflecting surface position becomes uncertain. Although the position measurement itself becomes impossible when the sample moves vigorously, the resolution for the moving sample (hereinafter referred to as “dynamic resolution”) is generally static even if it does not reach that point. This is inferior to the resolution of the sample (hereinafter referred to as “static resolution”). Therefore, in order to obtain a dynamic resolution of 80 μm, a static resolution of 80 μm must first be ensured. The inventor of the present application has found that the static resolution ΔZ is defined by the following equation (2) when the width of the variable range of the wave number is W k , as described later in “Principle” of Embodiment 1. (The spectrum shape when the measurement light is bundled is rectangular. The same applies hereinafter.)

As can be seen from this equation (2), the width of the variable range of the wave number needs to be 4.7 × 10 −2 μm −1 or more as a premise for obtaining a dynamic resolution of 80 μm. This corresponds to the constituent requirement of the second means “the width of the variable range of wave number is 4.7 × 10 −2 μm −1 or more”.
By the way, the measurement range in the depth direction depends on the coherent length of the measurement light at each wave number. Therefore, the measurement range is limited by the frequency width Δf of the measurement light. Since the relationship of the following formula (3) is established between the measurement range L m (relative to the depth direction of the sample) and the frequency width Δf (full width at half maximum), the frequency of the emitted light is required to ensure a measurement range of 10 mm. The width must be 13 GHz or less. This corresponds to the structural requirement of the second means “that is a variable wavelength light generating device whose outgoing light has a frequency width of 13 GHz or less”. Moreover, the measurement range of 2.5 mm can be ensured by setting the frequency width of the emitted light to 52 GHz or less. This corresponds to the configuration requirement “the variable wavelength light generator having a frequency width of emitted light of 52 GHz or less” of the third means.

This equation (3) is a modification of equation (22) of p46 of Non-Patent Document 3.
Here, c represents the speed of light. Note that such a value can be easily achieved in a semiconductor LD that oscillates in a single longitudinal mode.
On the other hand, as will be described later in Embodiment 1, the measurement range L m (relative to the depth direction of the sample) is also limited by the wave number interval Δk of the measurement light. That is, according to Nyquist's theorem, the measurement range L m is expressed by the following equation (4).

From this equation (4), it can be seen that in order to obtain a measurement range of 10 mm, the wave number interval must be set to 3.1 × 10 −4 μm −1 or less. This corresponds to the constituent requirement “3.1 × 10 −4 μm −1 or less wave number interval” of the second means.
If the wave number interval is set to 12.4 × 10 −4 μm −1 or less, the measurement range becomes 2.5 mm from the equation (4). This corresponds to the constituent requirement “wave number interval of 12.4 × 10 −4 μm −1 or less” of the third means.
Under the above requirements, by sufficiently short as shown wavenumber switching time t h below, while ensuring the measuring range 10 mm, it is possible observing a sample moving at a speed of 1 mm / sec in dynamic resolution 80 [mu] m. The conditions required for the wave number switching time are as follows.
In order to prevent the degradation of the resolution due to the movement of the sample, the measurement time t m may be shortened so that the distance the sample moves within the measurement time is less than the static resolution (that is, less than the static resolution). Shake is allowed.) Based on this concept, if the static resolution is Δz and the moving speed of the sample is v, the measurement time t m necessary to prevent degradation of the resolution due to the movement of the sample is expressed by the following equation (5).

By the way, since the total number of wave numbers used for the measurement is obtained by dividing the wave number range W k by the wave number interval Δk, the relationship between the measurement time t m and the wave number switching time interval t h is as follows.

Therefore, it can be seen from Equations (5) and (6) that the wave number switching time interval t h must be 530 μs or less in order to measure a sample whose sample moving speed v is 1 mm / s.
In addition, when the wave number interval Δk is 12.4 × 10 −4 μm −1 or less, the wave number switching time interval t h must be 530 μs or less in order to measure a sample having a moving speed v of 4 mm / s. I understand that it is not
This corresponds to the constituent requirement “means capable of switching the wave number in a stepped manner at a time interval of 530 μs or less” of the second means and the third means.

As is clear from the above description, the variable wavelength light generator <the variable wavelength light generator in which the width of the variable range of the wave number is 4.7 × 10 −2 μm −1 or more and the frequency width of the emitted light is 13 GHz or less. The resolution is 80 μm by limiting to a variable wavelength light generator having means capable of switching the wave number in a stepped manner with a wave number interval of 3.1 × 10 −4 μm −1 or less and a time interval of 530 μs or less. In addition, it is possible to observe a sample moving at a speed of 1 mm / second while ensuring a measurement range of 10 mm.
Further, the variable wavelength light generator is a variable wavelength light generator having a variable range of wavenumbers of 4.7 × 10 −2 μm −1 or more and a frequency width of emitted light of 52 GHz or less, which is 12.4 × By limiting to a variable wavelength light generator> having a means capable of switching the wave number in a stepped manner with a wave number interval of 10 −4 μm −1 or less and a time interval of 530 μs or less, a resolution of 80 μm and a measurement range of 2.5 mm are secured. However, it is possible to observe a sample moving at a speed of 4 mm / second.
In the above description, it is assumed that the wave number scanning is performed only once, but even in such a case, tomography can be performed by irradiating the sample with a horizontally long measurement light and using the CCD as a photodetector. is there. Equations (2) and (4) are strict equations for the case where the spectrum shape when measuring light is bundled is rectangular. However, even if the spectrum shape is changed to another one such as a Gaussian shape, the effect obtained without changing the resolution or the like is almost the same as that of the rectangular shape.

(C) More preferable wave number range, etc. As is clear from the above description, the preferable wave number range, etc. is automatically determined by the equations (2) to (6) if the resolution, measurement range, and measurable sample moving speed are determined. It is determined. A preferable example of the resolution and the like is as described above, but more preferable resolution, measurement range, and sample moving speed are 40 μm or less, 100 mm or more, and 3 mm / s or less, respectively. The most preferable values are 20 μm or less, 1000 mm or more and 9 mm / s or less, respectively. Therefore, the wave number ranges that respond to each request are as follows.

(A) When the sample speed is 1 mm / s or less The combination of the wave number interval, the frequency width, the variable wave number width, and the wave number switching time when the sample speed is 1 mm / s or less is as follows.

In [Table 1], the horizontal column represents a preferable wave number interval and frequency width, and the vertical column represents a preferable variable wave number width.
Here, the value of the wave number interval and the frequency width is 3.1 × 10 −4 μm −1 or less and 13 GHz or less, 3.1 × 10 −5 μm −1 or less and 1.3 GHz or less, 3.1 × 10 −6. μm −1 or less and 130 MHz or less correspond to a measurement range of 10 mm or more, 100 mm or more, and 1000 mm or more, respectively. Also, the value of the variable wave number width is 4.7 × 10 −2 μm −1 or more, 9.5 × 10 −2 μm −1 or more, and 1.9 × 10 −1 μm −1 or more is the resolution, 80 μm or less, It corresponds to 40 μm or less and 20 μm or less.
Here, when the measurement range corresponds to 100 mm or more, since the measurement range is sufficiently wide, there is an effect that the alignment of the reference light mirror becomes unnecessary even if the measurement point is changed. In addition, even when the measurement range corresponds to 10 mm or more, the effect that the alignment of the reference light mirror is facilitated is achieved.
Although the expression <wave number interval is below a certain value> is used, the case where the interval between wave numbers is 0 μm −1 is not included. This is because the wave number interval presupposes that there are a plurality of wave numbers at finite intervals. When the interval between wave numbers is 0 μm −1 , the wave number becomes one.

(B) When the sample speed is 3 mm / s or less Each wave number switching time in Table 1 may be set to one third.

(C) When the sample speed is 9 mm / s or less Each wave number switching time in Table 1 may be set to 1/9.

(D) When scanning the tomographic image of the measurement light focused on one point on the sample surface When the number of measurement points to be scanned is n (for example, n = 10, 50, 100, 200, 400, 800) or more The wave number switching time shown in (a) to (c) may be set to 1 / n or less.

As described above, a tomographic image can be obtained even if the wave number scanning is performed once. However, when a Mach-Zehnder interferometer is used as in the first embodiment described later, it is also necessary to scan a measurement point. The number of scanning points is preferably 10 or more, and more preferably 50 or more, 100 or more, 200 or more, 400 or more, and 800 or more.
In the above example, the sample speed is increased by shortening the wave number switching time. Narrowing the measurement range is also an effective way to deal with the increase in sample speed. Specifically, by setting the wave number interval (and frequency width) described at the top of Table 1 to 2 times and 4 times, the sample speed is 2 mm / s or less and the wave number switching time described in Table 1 is This can be used when the sample speed is 4 mm / s or less.
When the number of measurement points to be scanned is n (for example, n = 10, 50, 100, 200, 400, 800) or more, the wave number switching time shown in (a) to (c) is n minutes. The point which should just be made below 1 is as above-mentioned.

(D) The variable wavelength light generator for optical interference tomography has the “width of variable range of wave number” and “frequency width” described in (b) or (c), and the same (b) or ( It is preferable to include a variable wavelength light emitting element capable of switching the wave number in a step-like manner at the “wave number interval” and “time interval” described in (c) and its control circuit. And the control circuit can switch the wave number of the output light of the variable wavelength light emitting element in a stepped manner in the “width of variable range of wave number”, “frequency width”, “wave number interval”, and “time interval”. It must be something.
Alternatively, the variable wavelength light generator for optical interference tomography includes a broadband light emitting element having the “width of variable range of wave number” described in (b) or (c) above, and (b) or (c) above. May be a variable wavelength filter and its control circuit capable of extracting the output light of the broadband light emitting element in a staircase pattern according to “width of variable range of wave number”, “frequency width”, “wave number interval”, and “time interval”. .

(4) fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh means the first and second means, it may be expressed as follows. In other words, if the first and second means are expressed from different aspects, the fourth means for solving the above-mentioned problem is that the width of the variable range of the wave number is widened so that the resolution is 80 μm or less. The first value obtained by dividing the frequency width and wave number interval of the emitted light so that the range becomes 10 mm or more, and dividing the resolution by the speed of 1 mm / s, is obtained by dividing the width of the variable range by the wave number interval. The variable wavelength light generator for optical interference tomography is characterized by having means capable of stepwise switching the wave number at a time interval equal to or less than the time obtained by dividing by two values.

  The first and third means can also be expressed as follows. In other words, if the first and third means are expressed from different aspects, the fifth means for solving the above problem is that the width of the variable range of the wave number is widened so that the resolution is 80 μm or less. The frequency width and wave number interval of the emitted light are narrowed so that the range is 2.5 mm or more, and the first value obtained by dividing the resolution by the speed of 4 mm / s is divided by the width of the variable range by the wave number interval. The variable wavelength light generator for optical interference tomography is characterized by having means capable of stepwise switching the wave number at a time interval equal to or less than the time obtained by dividing by the second value.

Further, the sixth means for solving the above-mentioned problems includes: <a variable wavelength light source; a means for dividing output light of the variable wavelength light source into a first light beam and a second light beam; and a first light beam as a measurement object. Means for irradiating, means for combining the first and second light beams reflected or backscattered by the measurement object, and the intensity of the output light combined by the means for combining the variable wavelength light source And measuring the position or position and intensity at which the first light beam is reflected or backscattered by the measurement object from the set of intensity of the output light obtained for each wave number by the measuring means. A variable wavelength light generator used as the variable wavelength light source of an optical interference tomography apparatus having a means for specifying the depth direction of an object, and having a wavenumber variable range so that the resolution is 80 μm or less. Widen The frequency width and wave number interval of the emitted light are narrowed so that the measurement range is 10 mm or more, and the first value obtained by dividing the resolution by the speed of 1 mm / s is divided by the width of the variable range by the wave number interval. A variable wavelength light generator for optical interference tomography, which has means capable of switching the wave number in a stepped manner at a time interval equal to or less than the time obtained by dividing by the second value>.
For example, when the thickness of the multilayer film is measured by an optical interference tomography apparatus, the specifying means may determine the position where the first light beam is reflected or backscattered by the measurement object.

  In addition, the seventh means for solving the above-mentioned problems includes: <a variable wavelength light source; a means for dividing the output light of the variable wavelength light source into a first light beam and a second light beam; Means for irradiating, means for combining the first and second light beams reflected or backscattered by the measurement object, and the intensity of the output light combined by the means for combining the variable wavelength light source And measuring the position or position and intensity at which the first light beam is reflected or backscattered by the measurement object from the set of intensity of the output light obtained for each wave number by the measuring means. A variable wavelength light generator used as the variable wavelength light source of an optical interference tomography apparatus having a means for specifying the depth direction of an object, and having a wavenumber variable range so that the resolution is 80 μm or less. Widen The first value obtained by narrowing the frequency width and wave number interval of the emitted light so that the measurement range is 2.5 mm or more and dividing the resolution by the speed of 4 mm / s is the width of the variable range by the wave number interval. The variable wavelength light generator for optical interference tomography is characterized by having means capable of switching the wave number in a stepped manner at a time interval equal to or less than the time obtained by dividing by the divided second value.

Here, a more preferable value of the resolution is 40 μm or more or 20 μm or more. A more preferable range of the measurement range is 100 mm or more or 1000 mm or more. Further, a more preferable range of the speed for dividing the resolution is 3 mm / s or 9 mm / s.
Further, there are the following preferable combinations of values. That is, the resolution value is 40 μm or less or 20 μm or less, the measurement range is 5 mm or more, and the speed for dividing the resolution is 2 mm / s.
When the number of measurement points to be scanned is n (for example, n = 10, 50, 100, 200, 400, 800) or more, the wave number switching time may be set to 1 / n or less.

(5) Eighth means The eighth means for solving the above problem is that the means for irradiating the measurement object with the first light beam can scan the irradiation position of the first light beam with respect to the measurement object. And the optical interference tomography apparatus has means for constructing a tomographic image of the measurement object based on information specified by the specifying means and information on the irradiation position. Or a variable wavelength light generator for optical interference tomography according to the seventh means. By this means, a tomographic image to be measured can be obtained efficiently.

(6) Ninth means The ninth means for solving the above-mentioned problem is characterized in that: <the specifying means is a Fourier transform of a combination of a real number comprising the intensity of the output light and the wave number. The variable-wavelength light generator for optical interference tomography according to any one of the sixth to eighth means is used. As a Fourier transform method, a fast Fourier transform (FFT) method has been established that can be processed at a very high speed, and high-speed OFDR-OCT can be realized by FFT of data composed of real numbers.

(7) Tenth Means The tenth means for solving the above-mentioned problem is as follows: <Optical interference tom comprising means for constructing a moving image of a tomographic image of a measuring object by constructing a plurality of tomographic images of the measuring object A variable wavelength light generation device for optical interference tomography according to any one of the first to ninth means, which is used for a variable wavelength light source of a graphic apparatus. According to this means , since high-speed measurement is possible, it is possible to measure moving images of tomographic images such as peristalsis of the digestive tract and pulsating blood vessels, which can be applied to medical diagnosis.

(8) Eleventh means The eleventh means for solving the above-mentioned problems is as follows. <First means characterized in that a variable wavelength laser is used as a light emitting element constituting the variable wavelength light generator. Or a variable wavelength light generator for optical interference tomography according to any one of the tenth means.

(9) twelfth means for solving the twelfth means above problems of the "super-period as a light-emitting element constituting one of the" variable-wavelength light generating apparatus "of the first to tenth means This is to use a “structure diffraction grating distributed reflection type semiconductor laser” (Patent Document 1, Patent Document 2, Non-Patent Document 4). The “super periodic structure diffraction grating distributed reflection semiconductor laser” satisfies all requirements for the variable wavelength light generator such as the first means. That is, the variable width exceeds 100 nm (Δk = 0.261 μm −1 ), and a high-speed response with a wave number switching time interval of about several ns is possible. Further, continuous wavelength change is possible, and the frequency width of the oscillation spectrum is several MHz.

(10) A thirteenth means for solving the means above problems of the thirteenth, the "sampled as a light emitting element constituting a" variable-wavelength light generating apparatus "one of the first to tenth means Use a “grating distributed reflection type semiconductor laser”. The “sampled grating distributed reflection type semiconductor laser” satisfies all the requirements for the variable wavelength light generator such as the first means. That is, the variable width exceeds 100 nm (Δk = 0.261 μm −1 ), and a high-speed response with a wave number switching time interval of about several ns is possible. Further, continuous wavelength change is possible, and the frequency width of the oscillation spectrum is several MHz.

(11) Fourteenth means for solving means above problems of the fourteenth, the <variable wavelength light generating apparatus for one of the optical coherence tomography of the first means to thirteenth means An optical interference tomography apparatus> used as a variable wavelength light source> is used.

(12) a fifteenth means for solving the means above problems of the fifteenth includes a variable-wavelength light generating apparatus for one of the optical coherence tomography in <the first means to thirteenth means , Means for dividing the output light of the variable wavelength light generator into a first light beam and a second light beam, a means for irradiating the measurement object with the first light beam, and a first reflected or backscattered by the measurement object Means for combining the first light beam and the second light beam, means for measuring the intensity of the output light combined by the means for combining for each wave number of the variable wavelength light generator, and means for measuring Means for specifying the position or position and intensity of the first light beam reflected or backscattered by the measurement object from the set of intensity of the output light obtained for each wave number with respect to the depth direction of the measurement object; Optical interference tomography device characterized by having Is used. Since this optical interference tomography apparatus uses the variable wavelength light generator for optical interference tomography according to any one of the first to twelfth means, the above-mentioned problems can be solved as described above. it can.

  Here, "a means for dividing the output light of the variable wavelength light generator into a first light beam and a second light beam, a means for irradiating the measurement object with the first light beam, and a first light reflected by the measurement object. Various means are conceivable as means for combining the first light beam and the second light beam, and typical examples include a Michelson interferometer and a Mach-Zehnder interferometer. When the Mach-Zehnder interferometer is used, the light collection efficiency is higher than that of the Michelson interferometer.

(13) a fifteenth means for solving the means above problems of the sixteenth, the means for irradiating the measurement target <the first light beam, scanning an irradiation position with respect to the measurement target of the first light beam The above-mentioned fourteenth means or the above-mentioned means comprising: means capable of constructing a tomographic image of the measurement object based on information specified by the specifying means and information on the irradiation position The optical interference tomography apparatus of the fifteen means is used.

(14) a seventeenth means for solving means above problems of the seventeenth, it <the particular to means, the actual number of combinations of the intensity of the output light wave number is to Fourier transform The optical interference tomography apparatus of the fifteenth means or the sixteenth means characterized by the above is used.

(15) An eighteenth means for solving means above problems of the eighteenth, by constructing a plurality of tomographic images of <measured, to have the means for constructing the moving tomographic image of the measurement object The optical interference tomography apparatus according to any one of the fourteenth means to the seventeenth means characterized by the above is used.

(16) nineteenth means for solving means above problems of the nineteenth includes a variable-wavelength light generating apparatus for one of the optical coherence tomography in <the first means to fifth means, A sample optical path that guides the output light of the variable wavelength light generator to the sample without being divided, a partial reflection mechanism that returns part of the output light of the sample optical path along the sample optical path, and a sample along the sample optical path The optical interference tomography apparatus is characterized in that it has a light detection optical path that guides the reflected light or backscattered light and the reflected light from the partial reflection mechanism to the light detection means.

When a light source capable of switching the wave number of this means in a stepped manner is used, the coherence distance (coherent length) of the light source at each wave number can be 10 mm or more. In this case, even if the Michelson interferometer and Mach-Zehnder interferometer used in the conventional optical interference tomography are not used, a partial reflection mirror is provided on the sample optical path whose distance from the sample is shorter than the coherent distance. An optical interference tomography apparatus can be realized by interfering the reflected light from the partially reflecting mirror with the reflected or backscattered light from the sample.
According to this method, the number of optical parts to be used can be greatly reduced, the manufacturing cost can be reduced, and the apparatus can be further stabilized as compared with the conventional method using an interferometer.

(17) twentieth means for solving means above problems of the twentieth, the <a variable wavelength light generating apparatus for one of the optical coherence tomography of the first means to fifth means, A sample optical path that guides the output light of the variable wavelength light generator to the sample without being divided, and a partial reflection that reflects a part of the output light along the sample optical path by giving a desired polarization characteristic in the sample optical path Mechanism, sample light polarization specifying mechanism for irradiating the sample with the output light transmitted through the partial reflection mechanism in the sample optical path after giving the desired polarization characteristics, reflected light from the sample or backscattered light, and partial reflection mechanism A light detection optical path for guiding the reflected light from the light to means for dividing the incident light into two components whose polarization directions are orthogonal, and two outputs of the means for dividing the incident light into two components whose polarization directions are orthogonal Each with a light detection means The optical interference tomography apparatus characterized by the above is used.

(18) Twenty-first means The twenty-first means for solving the above-described problem includes: <means for scanning the position of the output light irradiated on the sample, and generating the variable wavelength light The optical interference tomography apparatus of the nineteenth means characterized in that the output of the light detection means detected for each wave number of the apparatus is taken into a computer and a tomographic image of the sample is constructed by calculation processing of the computer> Is to use.

(19) twenty-second means for solving the twenty-second means above problems comprises means for scanning the position of the output light applied to <the sample, and the variable wavelength light generating The optical interference of the twentieth means characterized in that the output of the light detection means detected for each wave number of the apparatus is taken into a computer, and a tomographic image showing the polarization characteristics of the sample is constructed by the calculation processing of the computer. Tomography apparatus>.

(20) Twenty-third means The twenty-third means for solving the above-mentioned problem is characterized in that: <the calculation process performs a Fourier transform on a combination of real numbers composed of the output and the wave number. The optical interference tomography apparatus of the twenty-first means or the twenty-second means is used.

(21) Twenty-fourth means The twenty-fourth means for solving the above-described problem is that the computer constructs a plurality of tomographic images and constructs a moving image of a tomographic image of a sample. The optical interference tomography apparatus according to any one of the twenty-first to thirty-third means described above is used.

(22) Twenty-fifth means The twenty-fifth means for solving the above-described problems is as follows. <Twelfth feature of the present invention is that a variable wavelength laser is used as a light emitting element constituting the variable wavelength light generator. The optical interference tomography device according to any one of the ninth means to the twenty-fourth means is used.

(23) Twenty-six means The twenty-sixth means for solving the above-described problems uses <a super-periodic structure grating distributed reflection type semiconductor laser as a light emitting element constituting the variable wavelength light generator. The optical interference tomography apparatus according to any one of the nineteenth means to the twenty-fifth means is used.

(24) Twenty-seventh means The twenty-seventh means for solving the above problems is that a sampled-grating distributed reflection type semiconductor laser is used as a light-emitting element constituting the variable wavelength light generator. The optical interference tomography apparatus according to any one of the nineteenth means to the twenty-fifth means characterized by the above is used .

  The present invention pays attention to the fact that the variable wavelength light generator can be constituted by a light source (for example, a semiconductor laser) capable of switching wavelengths at an ultra-high speed, and constructs a coherent interference waveform by scanning the wave number using the variable wavelength light generator. This makes it possible to observe a tomographic portion of a living body that is difficult to stop, which was difficult with conventional OCT. In addition, for the observation of the part that can be restrained, the tomographic observation that makes the restraint unnecessary and eliminates the burden on the living body is made possible. At this time, by limiting the variable wave number width, wave number interval, and frequency width, sufficient resolution and measurement range can be secured, and efficient measurement is enabled.

Furthermore, according to the present invention, since a tomographic image of a moving part such as a peristalsis of the digestive tract or a pulsating blood vessel can be taken, a moving image can be taken by continuously taking these images.
Accordingly, the present invention is to be as those invented light source of a new optical coherence tomography apparatus for scanning a wave number stepwise at the same time, a fault shooting light source restraining difficult biological part for the this light source It can be said that the use was invented. Similarly, it can be said that the invented use of the moving IMAGING source of the tomographic image with respect to the site to move the life activity.

<Embodiment 1>
FIG. 3 shows an example of an optical interference tomography apparatus according to the present invention.
The optical interference tomography apparatus shown in FIG. 3 has a variable wavelength light generator 31 as a variable wavelength light source. The variable wavelength light generator 31 is composed of a super-periodic structure diffraction grating distributed reflection type semiconductor laser and its control circuit. The variable wavelength light generator 31 has a variable wavelength range of 153.17 to 1574.14 nm (W k = 1.07 × 10 −1 μm −1 ) and a spectrum frequency width of 10 MHz or less. The scanning speed is 1 μs per step, and scanning is performed at 400 wave numbers (therefore, the wave number width per step is 2.67 × 10 −4 μm). Since scanning at 400 wavenumbers is performed at a scanning speed of 1 μs / step, the measurement time of A scan (scanning only in the depth direction) is 0.4 ms, and B scanning with 50 A scans (horizontal direction performed while repeating A scans) The measurement time is 20 ms.
When the static resolution is obtained from equation (2),
ΔZ = 36μm
(The resolution in a living body having a refractive index of 1.36 is 26 μm. Since the refractive index depends on the composition of the sample, the present invention does not consider the influence of the refractive index on the resolution. As described above. However, since the refractive index of a living body is not so large, the effect obtained even if the influence of the refractive index is ignored is almost the same.) Even if the biological sample moves at 1 mm / s, the moving distance of the sample during the B scan is only 20 μm, which is smaller than the static resolution of 36 μm, so that the dynamic resolution does not deteriorate.
The measurement range is determined by the wave number interval and is 12 mm as can be seen from the equation (4) (note that the measurement range calculated from the frequency width is 13 m (see equation (3)).

The light emitted from the variable wavelength light generator 31 is divided into two by the first coupler 32 at a ratio of 90:10. One of the divided lights (division ratio 90%) is further divided into two by the second coupler 33 at a ratio of 70:30. One of the light beams divided here (measurement light: splitting ratio 70%) is guided by the optical circulator 34 to the sample 37 to be measured, and the signal light 45 from the sample 37 is again transmitted by the optical circulator 34 to the third light. Guided to the coupler 38. The other of the lights split by the second coupler 33 (reference light: split ratio 30%) is guided to the other optical input port of the third coupler 38 and multiplexed with the signal light 45. By using the optical circulator 34, a Mach-Zehnder type interferometer could be constructed. The B scan for obtaining the tomographic image is realized by scanning the measurement light on the surface of the sample 37 by the scanning mirror 36 interposed between the optical circulator 34 and the sample 37. The first, second and third couplers 32, 33 and 38 are constituted by directional couplers. The output of the third coupler 38 is detected by a first differential amplifier 39 having a light detection function. Since the third coupler 38 is constituted by a directional coupler, the two outputs I 01 and I 02 of the third coupler 38 are as follows. The first differential amplifier 39 detects the difference between the two outputs I 01 and I 02 of the third coupler 38 and outputs the log thereof. The first equation of equation (7) is a well-known equation representing the interference pattern when the optical path length difference is 2L. The second equation of equation (7) is due to the characteristics of the directional coupler.

Where k n is the wave number of the emitted light of the variable wavelength light generating apparatus 31, I r is the divided light by the reference light 46 (the second coupler 33 is not guided to the sample 37 by the optical circulator 34, directly third but are directed to the coupler 38: intensity of split ratio 30%), I s is the intensity of the signal light 45 from the sample 37, 2L is the optical path length difference between the reference light 46 and signal light 45 (Michelson interferometer, the reference When the optical path length of the optical mirror and the beam splitter is L r , and the optical path length of the reflection surface inside the sample and the beam splitter is L s , L = L s −L r , so L is in the depth direction of the sample. Equivalent to coordinates). In addition, in order to simplify the explanation, only one reflection location is provided inside the sample 37, and the phase shift accompanying reflection is ignored (the phase shift accompanying reflection is within π, so the error in the optical path length is less than one-half wavelength). And can be ignored.)
The Log output signal of the first differential amplifier 39 is input to the second differential amplifier 40. The other of the lights divided by the first coupler 32 (division ratio 10%) is detected by the photodetector 42 and then guided to the second differential amplifier 40 through the Log amplifier 43. The second differential amplifier 40 performs division for correcting fluctuations in input light intensity. Therefore, the output of the second differential amplifier 40 is expressed by the following equation (8) (a constant term is omitted).

The output of the second differential amplifier 40 is input to an analog / digital converter (not shown), and the digital output is guided to the computer 41 where the computer 41 performs calculation processing to synthesize a coherent interference waveform. The computer 41 constructs a tomographic image of the sample 37 based on this coherent interference waveform. The computer 41 also controls the variable wavelength light generator 31 and the scanning mirror 36 at the same time. FIG. 4 shows an example in which a coherent interference waveform is synthesized. It is a coherent interference waveform obtained by using a cover glass having a thickness of 160 μm as a sample 37. The two peaks correspond to reflections from the front surface and the back surface of the sample 37, respectively.
By adopting such an apparatus configuration, it has become possible to perform tomography of organs that are difficult to restrain, such as the digestive tract, which has been difficult in the past. Then, by continuously capturing these tomographic images, it becomes possible to capture a moving image. That is, a moving image of the tomographic image to be measured is constructed by constructing a plurality of tomographic images. This moving image is also constructed by the computer 41.
FIG. 5 shows the result of tomography using a human nail as a measurement target. It can be seen that five layers having a thickness of about 80 μm can be identified from the surface of the nail, and a thick layer having a thickness of 300 μm exists behind it. Although the finger was not particularly fixed during the measurement, a clear image without blurring was obtained.

  In the first embodiment, since a Mach-Zehnder interferometer is used, a B scan is essential to obtain a tomographic image. However, since the light collection efficiency is high and the measurement light can be guided to the vicinity of the sample with an optical fiber, the operability is excellent. The fiber source coupler (trade name) 35 is a so-called collimator, and is interposed between the optical circulator 34 and the scanning mirror 36, and converts the measurement light that emerges from the optical fiber into parallel light, and The signal light 45 (parallel light) from the sample 37 is converged and coupled to the optical fiber. Further, the visible light output from the aiming light source 44 which is a visible light source is also guided to the sample 37 via the second coupler 33, the optical circulator 34, the fiber source coupler 35, and the scanning mirror 36. Is done. As a result, it is possible to visually confirm how the measurement light strikes the sample 37 before measurement.

  The light emitting element of the variable wavelength light generator 31 is not limited to the super-period structure diffraction grating distributed reflection semiconductor laser, and a distributed reflection laser (DBR laser) can be used although the variable wave number width is narrow. In addition to these, there are applicable variable wavelength lasers (sampled grating distributed reflection type semiconductor lasers) (for example, a variable wavelength laser described in Patent Document 3). The wavenumber switching time of these lasers can be increased to several ns.

(principle)
The principle of calculation processing performed to obtain a coherent interference waveform is as follows.
The term in the log of the equation (8) is composed of the square root of I s / I r and the term of cos. Here, I s / I r is considered constant since k n dependence is small. Therefore, by removing the output of the second differential amplifier 40 calculates processing log, it is possible to obtain the output I d proportional to cos (2L · k n).
When the output I d is measured for all k n and the value is Fourier transformed to obtain the absolute value, a function having a sharp peak at the position of x = 2L is obtained. That is, a value 2L representing the position of the reflecting surface inside the sample can be obtained by Fourier transforming the output I d .
The following shows that the absolute value of the Fourier transform is a function having a sharp peak at the position of x = 2L.
The cos component Y c (x), sin component Y s (x), and absolute value Y t (x) of the Fourier transform of the output I d are expressed by the following equations (9), (10), (11), (12 (Proportional coefficient is omitted. The same shall apply hereinafter.)

Here, k s is the starting point of the wave number scanning range, n is a natural number, and N is the total number of wave numbers to be scanned.
First, consider the cos component Y c (x).
The following formulas (13) and (14) are derived from the mathematical formula.

When calculating Expression (9), Expression (13) and Expression (14) are used. Note that j is an imaginary unit.
First, at α = x × k n Equation (13), placed and β = 2L × k n, into equation (9). Equation (13) consists of four terms. First, Σ is calculated only for the previous two terms. Formula (14) is used for the calculation of Σ. In this case, γ = (x + 2L) × placed and Δk, j × (α + β ) = j × (x + 2L) × k n = j (x + 2L) × (k s + Δk · n) = j (x + 2L) × k s + j ( x + 2L) · Δk · n = j (x + 2L) × k s + j · γ · n is used. Finally, using the relational expression cos (x) = [exp (jx) + exp (−jx)] / 2, the expression becomes simple. If the same procedure is followed for the last two terms, the following equation (15) is obtained.

Similarly, the sin component Y s (x) is derived as shown in the following equation (16).

  Here, both the expression (15) and the expression (16) include the terms of the following expressions (17) and (18), which have a large value at x = 2L or x = -2L, and a small value otherwise. .

On the other hand, the coefficients of these terms are trigonometric functions that oscillate between -1 and +1. Accordingly, the absolute value of the Fourier transform is calculated from the expressions (15) and (16) to (17) in the vicinity of x = -2L, and from the expressions (15) and (16) in the vicinity of x = 2L. An approximate value can be obtained by discriminating the term of equation (18) and substituting it into equation (11).
Therefore, in the vicinity of x = 2L, the following equation (19) is obtained.

That is, the position of the reflecting surface inside the measurement object is specified from the set of output light intensities obtained for each wave number. Since the light intensity required for this specification is one for each wave number, the measurement time can be shortened compared with the conventional FD-OCT.
Expression (19) is a periodic function with respect to x, and the period is determined by the sin function of the denominator of Expression (19) (FIG. 6). According to Nyquist's theorem, the measurable range L m is expressed by the following equations (20) and (21).

Equation (19) takes the maximum value x = 2L and the value is N. That is, the peak value of the coherent interference waveform obtained by the present invention increases in proportion to N. The proportionality coefficient is found to be twice the square root of I r × I s from the equations (7) and (18). On the other hand, the peak of OCDR-OCT, since it is obtained in that the phase of the reference light and the signal light are matched, twice the square root of the product i.e. I r × I s of the reference light intensity I r and the signal light intensity I s It turns out that it is. Therefore, the peak value of the coherent interference waveform obtained by the present invention is N times the peak of OCDR-OCT, but N is the total number of wave numbers used for measurement, and is usually several hundred to several thousand. The coherent interference waveform obtained by the invention is several hundred to several thousand times larger than OCDR-OCT.

  On the other hand, since the conventional FD-OCT also uses Fourier transform, the coherent interference waveform can be proportional to the total number N of measurement waves, but is weakened by the diffraction grating when the interference light is dispersed by the diffraction grating (diffraction efficiency is generally Therefore, the coherent interference waveform is not as large as OFDR-OCT. Furthermore, since the light from the light source is extended in the y direction, the coherent interference waveform becomes rather small. Therefore, the coherent interference waveform obtained by the present invention is large even for the conventional FD-OCT.

Also, the resolution of the present invention can be derived from equation (19).
Since sin (x) can be approximated by x in the vicinity of x = 0, it is clear that the value of equation (19) at x = 2L is (N + 1). Accordingly, by solving the following equation (22) for x, the half width, that is, the resolution ΔZ can be obtained.

Note that Y t (x) takes a large value even at the position of x = 2π / Δk−2L due to the presence of the term of Expression (17). Therefore, a ghost appears at this position. If the ghost can be easily identified due to the nature of the measurement object, there is no problem. If not, it is necessary to decrease the waveform interval and increase L m .

  Here, when the following approximate expression (23) is substituted into expression (22) and expression (23) is solved by numerical analysis, expression (24) is obtained.

  From this equation, the equation (25) relating to the resolution is obtained.

  This resolution has a half width at half maximum for x, but has a full width at half maximum for L corresponding to coordinates in the depth direction of the sample.

  If the phase difference between the measurement light and the reference light can be obtained, the information of the backscattered (or reflected) light is completely grasped. It is easy to determine the strength. However, in the present invention, as described above, only a combination of the intensity of the output light and the real number composed of the wave number is Fourier transformed. In other words, the backscattering position and its intensity can be measured without measuring the phase difference between the measurement light and the reference light, and there is a feature that a complicated apparatus configuration for measuring the phase difference is not necessary.

<Embodiment 2>
The configuration of the optical interference tomography apparatus according to the second embodiment is the same as that shown in FIG. In the second embodiment, the variable wavelength light generator 31 has a variable wavelength range of 1511.74 to 1588.26 nm (W k = 2.0 × 10 −1 μm) and a spectrum frequency width of 10 MHz or less. It is. The scanning speed is 2 ns / step per step, and scanning is performed at 8000 wave numbers (therefore, the wave number width per step is 2.5 × 10 −5 μm). Since scanning at 8000 wavenumbers is performed at a scanning speed of 2 ns / step, the measurement time of A scan (scanning only in the depth direction) is 16 μs, and B scanning (repeating A scanning is performed with 800 A scanning) If scanning is performed, the measurement time is 13 ms. The static resolution is calculated from equation (2). ΔZ = 19μm
It becomes. Even if the biological sample moves at 1 mm / s, the moving distance of the sample during the B-scan is only 13 μm, which is smaller than the static resolution 19 μm, so that the dynamic resolution does not deteriorate.

  The measurement range is determined by the wave number interval and is 130 mm as can be seen from the equation (4) (note that the measurement range calculated from the frequency width is 13 m (see equation (3)). Since the measurement range is sufficiently wide as 130 mm or more, it is not necessary to adjust the position of the reference light mirror each time even if the measurement point is changed.

  In the above example, a Mach-Zehnder interferometer is used as an interferometer, but a Michelson interferometer may be used as in the prior art of FIG. That is, in the configuration of FIG. 8, the light source 5 may be replaced with the variable wavelength light generator 31 (the movement of the reference light mirror 8 is not necessary). In this case, as shown in FIG. 10, by using the cylindrical lens 19 and the CCD 16 for focusing the measurement light only in one axis direction (by replacing the light source 5 with the variable wavelength light generator 31 in the configuration of FIG. 10). The tomographic image can be obtained only by the A scan (the gray tag 21 is unnecessary).

<Embodiment 3>
In the optical interference tomography apparatus according to the third embodiment, an optical system is configured by a Michelson interferometer and a cylindrical lens so that a tomographic image can be obtained only by A scan. That is, in the configuration of FIG. 10 as described above, the light source 5 is replaced with a variable wavelength light generator (the gray tag 21 is unnecessary). In the third embodiment, the variable wavelength light generator has a variable wavelength range of 1511.74 to 1588.26 nm (W k = 2.0 × 10 −1 μm) and a spectrum frequency width of 10 MHz or less. The scanning speed is 25 ns / step per step, and scanning is performed at 80000 wave numbers (therefore, the wave number width per step is 2.5 × 10 −6 μm). Since scanning at 80000 wave numbers is performed at a scanning speed of 25 ns / step, the measurement time (measurement time of A scan) is 2.0 ms. The static resolution is calculated from equation (2). ΔZ = 19μm
It becomes. Even if the biological sample moves at 9 mm / s, the moving distance of the sample during the measurement time is only 18 μm, which is smaller than the static resolution 19 μm, so that the dynamic resolution does not deteriorate.

  The measurement range is determined by the wave number interval, and is 1300 mm as can be seen from the equation (4) (note that the measurement range calculated from the frequency width is 13 m (see equation (3)). Since the measurement range is sufficiently wide as 1300 mm or more, it is not necessary to adjust the position of the reference light mirror each time even if the measurement point is changed.

  Although only three examples of the variable wave number width and wave number interval of the variable wavelength light generator are shown, possible combinations of variable wave width and wave number interval are not limited to this. Use of the combinations listed in the column of “Means for Solving the Problems” also provides the same or greater effect as in this example.

  The variable wavelength light generator for optical interference tomography includes a broadband light emitting element such as a super luminescence diode (SLD) and a halogen lamp, and a variable wavelength filter that extracts the output light in a staircase pattern (see Patent Document 2). The waveguide-type Fabry-Perot optical wavelength filter, etalon, etc.) and its control circuit may be used.

<Embodiment 4>
When the variable wavelength light generator according to the present invention is used, the coherent length of the light given by the equation (3) can be increased, and the measurement range given by the equation (4) can be made longer. Therefore, it is used in the conventional optical interference tomography. Without using a Michelson interferometer or a Mach-Zehnder interferometer, a reflectometer device or a tomography device can be implemented with an optical system having a small number of components.

In FIG. 12, the light of the variable wavelength light generator 31 is guided to the sample optical path using the optical circulator 34 without being divided. In the sample optical path, the light passes through the optical fiber 47 from the optical circulator 34, exits the end of the optical fiber 47, is collimated by the fiber source coupler 35, and is irradiated to the sample 37 through the scanning mirror 36 and the focusing lens 51. . Light constituted intensity I s in the reflected light and backscattering light from the sample is condensed through the sample light path, the optical circulator 34 is guided to the light detection optical path 48. On the sample optical path, the reference light reflecting element 50 is placed in a place where the distance from the measurement position of the deepest part of the sample is within the measurement range determined by the condition of Equation (4), and a part of the light that irradiates the sample is the reference light part reflected along the sample light path at an intensity I r as 46. Such a configuration is made possible by the variable wavelength light generator according to the present invention that can realize a long measurement range. Since the reflectance of the partial reflection mirror (reference light reflecting element 50) may be about several percent, the decrease of the irradiation light to the sample, the reflection from the sample, or the backscattered light (signal light 45) in the sample optical path is small.

In FIG. 12, the reference light reflecting element 50 is disposed between the fiber source coupler 35 and the scanning mirror 36, but may be anywhere on the sample optical path as long as it is within the above measurement range. When the reference light reflecting element 50 is placed between the scanning mirror 36 and the sample 37, the reflecting surface is provided so that a constant reflection intensity can be obtained in any direction corresponding to the change in the direction of the irradiation light beam. It may be curved. Further, instead of the partial reflection mirror (reference light reflection element 50), an extremely small total reflection prism may be placed in the spread and collimated light beam. All of the <partial reflection mechanism for returning a part of the irradiation light of the sample optical path along the sample optical path> are included in the claims.
The partially reflected light, the reflection from the sample, and the backscattered light interfere with each other, and the intensity of the light detected by the photodetector 9 as the light detecting means is expressed by Equation (26).

Here, L is the distance (the distance along the optical path) between the position of the partial reflection mirror (reference light reflecting element 50) and the position of the sample 37 to be measured. The output of the photodetector 9 is amplified by the amplifier 49, it is stored in the computer 41 for each wave number k n. The computer 41 constructs a tomographic image of the sample 37 by calculation processing based on the output data of the amplifier 49, and further constructs a plurality of tomographic images to construct a moving image of the tomographic image of the sample 37. Expression (26) has the same function form as Expression (7), and the remaining interference term obtained by subtracting I r + I s corresponding to the direct current component of the intensity by the calculator 41.
Thus, the processing for obtaining the reflectance in the depth direction of the sample as a function of the depth is the same as that described in detail in <Embodiment 1>.

<Embodiment 5>
FIG. 13 is a diagram illustrating the invention that makes it possible to measure a tomographic image of the polarization characteristics of a sample in the embodiment shown in FIG.

  The polarized light of the output light from the variable wavelength light generator 31 is normally linearly polarized, but when it is not linearly polarized, it is linearly polarized by the polarizing element 52 and guided to the optical circulator 34. The optical circulator 34 guides the input light to the sample optical path, and the light emitted from the end face of the optical fiber 47 is converted into parallel light by the fiber source coupler 35.

  A part of the light emitted from the fiber source coupler 35 is given along the sample optical path with a desired polarization characteristic in the sample optical path composed of the first wave plate 53 and the reference light reflecting element 50. The partial reflection mechanism 58 that reflects the light of the portion is reflected along the sample optical path as reference light having a desired polarization characteristic. As an example of desired polarization characteristics, a quarter wave plate is used as the first wave plate 53, and the axis direction of the wave plate is 22.5 degrees (π / 8) radians with respect to the direction of linear polarization of input light. Tilt. In this case, the partially reflected light becomes linearly polarized light inclined by 45 degrees (π / 4 radians) with respect to the polarization direction of the input light. If this light is guided to the optical detection optical path 48 through the optical circulator 34 and input so that the linear polarization direction is inclined by 45 degrees with respect to the axis of the polarization beam splitter 55, the two polarization directions of the polarization beam splitter 55 are The reference light intensity is distributed with the same value. An effect equivalent to this is that the input light linearly polarized by the partially reflecting mirror (reference light reflecting element 50) is partially reflected without using the first wave plate 53, and is 45 with respect to the direction of the linearly polarized light of the reflected light. The polarization beam splitter 55 may be arranged so that the degree axis is inclined. The wide expression of “desired polarization characteristics” is used in this way, depending on the polarization state of the input light, the polarization characteristics of the sample light polarization specific mechanism, and the combination with the polarization beam splitter used for detection. Because you get. The conditions for the distance between the reference light reflecting element 50 and the sample 37 are as described in the fourth embodiment.

  In FIG. 13, the second wave plate 54, which is a quarter wave plate, is shown in FIG. 13 as the sample light polarization specifying mechanism that irradiates the sample after imparting the desired polarization characteristics. The sample 37 is irradiated through. The irradiation light is irradiated to the sample 37 through the scanning mirror 36 and the focusing lens 51. As the <desired polarization characteristic>, it is easy to analyze in a later analysis by converting the sample into circularly polarized light. However, if the polarization characteristics are specified, a tomographic image of the polarization characteristics of the sample can be constructed by the calculation process of the computer 41 with respect to the sample irradiation of various polarization characteristics light including elliptically polarized light and linearly polarized light. The <irradiation light having desired polarization characteristics> of the present invention includes all of these.

The light reflected and back-scattered from the sample 37 returns along the sample optical path, is guided to the optical detection optical path 48 together with the reference light by the optical circulator 34, and has two components in the two directions orthogonal to each other by the polarization beam splitter 55. is divided into light, are respectively detected by the light detector 9 as the light detecting means, a first amplifier 56 is amplified by the second amplifier 57, it is stored in the computer 41 for each wave number k n. In the computer 41, based on the output data of the amplifier 49, a tomographic image showing the polarization characteristics of the sample 37 is constructed by calculation processing, and further, a plurality of tomographic images are constructed to construct a moving image of the tomographic image of the sample 37. To do. When the output intensities of the respective amplifiers 56 and 57 are expressed as I 及 び and I = , they are expressed by the following equations.

Here, I r ⊥ and I r = are the intensities of the reference light input in the two axial directions of the polarizing beam splitter 55, and the axis of the linearly polarized reference light is 45 degrees with respect to the axis of the polarizing beam splitter. These are equal if they are incident at an angle. Even if they are not equal, they can be corrected by the processing of the computer 41.
If circularly polarized light is irradiated and the sample has an isotropic polarization characteristic, the scattered light I sの and I s = in the two polarization directions are equal. If the sample has polarization characteristics, a difference occurs between them, and the polarization characteristics of the sample can be determined from this difference.

This invention is relates to a variable wavelength light generating equipment of the optical coherence tomography device, be useful to apply when performing particular tomographic observation of a conventional OCT stop difficult biological part it was difficult with In addition, the present invention is useful when applied to the case where the tomographic observation of the portion that can be stopped is performed .

In the variable wavelength light generator for optical interference tomography of this invention, it is a figure which shows a mode that a wave number is switched in steps so that it may increase gradually with wave number scanning time. In the variable wavelength light generator for optical interference tomography of this invention, it is a figure which shows a mode that a wave number is switched in steps so that it may decrease gradually with wave number scanning time. In the variable wavelength light generator for optical interference tomography of this invention, it is a figure which shows a mode that a wave number is switched to step shape irregularly with wave number scanning time. It is a figure which shows the spectral characteristic which bundled the output light intensity | strength of the interferometer in each wave number. It is a figure which shows the structural example of the optical interference tomography apparatus by this invention. It is a figure which shows the example which synthesize | combined the coherent interference waveform in the said optical interference tomography apparatus. It is a figure which shows the result of tomography which took a human nail | claw as a measuring object. It is explanatory drawing of a measurable range. This is the measurement principle of OCDR-OCT. It is a block diagram of an OCDR-OCT apparatus. It is a figure which shows the interference pattern (coherent interference waveform) obtained in the said OCDR-OCT apparatus. It is a block diagram of an OFDR-OCT apparatus. It is a figure which shows the fringe (spatial interference pattern) obtained in the OFDR-OCT apparatus by the above. It is a block diagram of the OFDR-OCT apparatus which does not divide | segment the optical path of light. It is a block diagram of the apparatus which performs a polarization measurement in OFDR-OCT which does not divide | segment the optical path of light.

1 Sample (living body)
2 Measurement light 3 Tissue interface 4 Reflected light 5 Light source 6 Michelson interferometer 7 Beam splitter 8 Reference light mirror 9 Photo detector 10 Reference light 11 Signal light 12 Detector output 13 Reference light mirror moving distance 14 Optical path length is 14 Near coincidence 15 Interference pattern 16 CCD
17 Sample surface 18 Measurement light 19, 20 Cylindrical lens 21 Grating 22 Fringe 31 Variable wavelength light generator 32 First coupler 33 Second coupler 34 Optical circulator 35 Fiber source coupler 36 Scanning mirror 37 Sample 38 Third coupler 39 First differential amplifier 40 Second differential amplifier 41 Computer 42 Photo detector 43 Log amplifier 44 Aiming light source 45 Signal light 46 Reference light 47 Optical fiber 48 Optical detection optical path 49 Amplifier 50 Reference light reflection element 51 Focusing lens 52 Polarizing element 53 First wave plate 54 Second wave plate 55 Polarizing beam splitter 56 First amplifier 57 Second amplifier 58 Partial reflection mechanism

Claims (13)

  1. Means for dividing the output light of the variable wavelength light generator into a first light beam and a second light beam; means for irradiating the measurement object with the first light beam; and the first reflected or backscattered by the measurement object Means for combining the light beam and the second light beam, means for measuring the intensity of the output light combined by the means for combining for each wave number of the output light of the variable wavelength light generator, and means for measuring The position or position and intensity at which the first light beam is reflected or back-scattered by the measurement object from the set of intensity of the combined output light obtained for each wave number by the wavelength direction with respect to the depth direction of the measurement object Means for identifying,
    The means for irradiating the measurement object with the first light beam is capable of scanning the irradiation position of the first light beam with respect to the measurement object,
    And means for simultaneously controlling the construction of the tomographic image of the measurement object, the switching of the wave number, and the scanning of the first light beam based on the information specified by the specifying means and the information on the irradiation position. The variable wavelength light generator of an optical interference tomography apparatus, wherein the wave number can be switched stepwise by the control by the controlling means.
  2. 2. The variable wavelength light generating device according to claim 1, wherein the specifying means performs Fourier transform on a combination of the real number composed of the intensity of the output light and the wave number.
  3. 2. The variable wavelength light generator according to claim 1, wherein the specifying means is a unit that performs Fourier transform on a combination of a real number composed of the intensity of the output light and the wave number to obtain an absolute value.
  4. 4. The optical interference tomography apparatus comprises means for constructing a moving image of a tomographic image to be measured by constructing a plurality of tomographic images to be measured. The variable wavelength light generator according to the item.
  5. A sample optical path that guides the output light of the variable wavelength light generator to the sample without being divided, a partial reflection mechanism that returns a part of the output light of the sample optical path along the sample optical path, and a sample from the sample along the sample optical path A light detection optical path for guiding reflected light or backscattered light and reflected light from the partial reflection mechanism to a light detection means, means for scanning the position of the output light irradiated on the sample, and the variable wavelength light generator Means for capturing the output of the light detection means detected for each wave number of output light into a computer, and constructing a tomographic image of the sample by processing of the computer;
    Based on the output of the light detection means detected for each wave number of the output light of the variable wavelength light generator, construction of the tomographic image of the measurement object, switching of the wave number, and scanning of the irradiation position of the output light simultaneously The variable wavelength light generator of an optical interference tomography apparatus comprising a control means, wherein the wave number can be switched stepwise by the control by the control means.
  6. A sample optical path that guides the output light of the variable wavelength light generator to the sample without being divided, and a partial reflection mechanism that reflects a part of the output light along the sample optical path by giving a desired polarization characteristic in the sample optical path And a sample light polarization specifying mechanism for irradiating the sample with the output light transmitted through the partial reflection mechanism in the sample optical path after having a desired polarization characteristic, and reflected light or backscattered light from the sample and the partial reflection mechanism The two outputs of the light detection optical path that guides the reflected light to the means for dividing the incident light into two components whose polarization directions are orthogonal to each other and the light output of the means for dividing the incident light into two components whose polarization directions are orthogonal are detected. Means for scanning, the means for scanning the position of the output light applied to the sample, and the output of the means for detecting light detected for each wave number of the output light of the variable wavelength light generator, respectively. The calculation processing, and means for constructing a tomographic image indicating the polarization characteristics of the sample,
    Based on the output of the means for detecting light detected for each wave number of the output light of the variable wavelength light generator, the construction of the tomographic image of the measurement object, the switching of the wave number, and the scanning of the irradiation position of the output light are performed. The variable wavelength light generator of an optical interference tomography apparatus comprising means for simultaneously controlling, wherein the wave number can be switched stepwise by the control by the means for controlling.
  7. 7. The variable wavelength light generator according to claim 5, wherein the calculation process performs Fourier transform on a combination of the output and the real number including the wave number.
  8. The variable wavelength light generator according to claim 5 or 6, wherein the calculation process is to take an absolute value by Fourier-transforming a combination of the output and the real number including the wave number.
  9. 9. The variable wavelength light generation apparatus according to claim 5, wherein the computer constructs a plurality of tomographic images and constructs a moving image of a tomographic image of a sample. 10.
  10. The variable wavelength light generator according to any one of claims 1 to 9, wherein a variable wavelength laser is used as a light-emitting element constituting the variable wavelength light generator.
  11. 11. The variable wavelength light generator according to claim 1, wherein a superperiodic structure grating distributed reflection type semiconductor laser is used as a light emitting element constituting the variable wavelength light generator. .
  12. The variable wavelength light generator according to any one of claims 1 to 10, wherein a sampled grating distributed reflection type semiconductor laser is used as a light-emitting element constituting the variable wavelength light generator.
  13. The means for controlling can control the width, frequency width, wave number interval, and time interval of the variable range of wave numbers simultaneously with scanning of the irradiation position of the first light beam or scanning of the irradiation position of the output light. The variable wavelength light generator according to any one of claims 1 to 10.
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