Conference paper

Coherent transfer functions and extended depth of field

To preserve the speed advantage of Fourier Domain detection in Optical Coherence Microscopy (OCM), extended depth of field is needed. With a narrow probing volume that extends over a long axial range, tissue could be measured in vivo and at cellular resolution. To assess and improve the DOF and the lateral resolution, we analyzed the coherent transfer function (CTF) of OCM. Both the illumination and detection optics contribute equally to the overall imaging performance. In the Fourier domain detection, each pixel of the spectrometer has its specific CTF, sampling a different region of the object’s spatial frequency spectrum. For classical optics and increasing numerical apertures these regions start to overlap and bend, which limits the depth of field. Annular apertures, created with Bessel-like beams produced by axicon lenses or phase filters, circumvent these detrimental effects, but introduce strong side lobes. Decoupling the detection and the illumination apertures is needed to provide the flexibility in engineering a CTF that optimizes the lateral resolution and the DOF at the same time all while reducing these side lobes. We evaluated different combinations of Gaussian and Bessel-like illumination and detection optics, both theoretically and experimentally. Using Bessel-like beams as well in the illumination as in the detection paths, but with annular apertures of different lobe radii, we obtained a lateral resolution of 1.3 μm and an extended depth of field of more than 300 μm, which was completely decoupled from the numerical aperture and scalable to high lateral resolution.

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