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Opt Express. 2013 Aug 12;21(16):19353-62. doi: 10.1364/OE.21.019353.

Investigation of the confocal wavefront sensor and its application to biological microscopy.

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National Physical Laboratory, Hampton Road, Teddington, TW11 0LW, UK.


Wavefront sensing in the presence of background light sources is complicated by the need to restrict the effective depth of field of the wavefront sensor. This problem is particularly significant in direct wavefront sensing adaptive optic (AO) schemes for correcting imaging aberrations in biological microscopy. In this paper we investigate how a confocal pinhole can be used to reject out of focus light whilst still allowing effective wavefront sensing. Using a scaled set of phase screens with statistical properties derived from measurements of wavefront aberrations induced by C. elegans specimens, we investigate and quantify how the size of the pinhole and the aberration amplitude affect the transmitted wavefront. We suggest a lower bound for the pinhole size for a given aberration strength and quantify the optical sectioning provided by the system. For our measured aberration data we find that a pinhole of size approximately 3 Airy units represents a good compromise, allowing effective transmission of the wavefront and thin optical sections. Finally, we discuss some of the practical implications of confocal wavefront sensing for AO systems in microscopy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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