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Patents

Optiscan has a strong suite of intellectual property (IP) that is constantly being expanded through further research and development.
 
The company has many patents protecting its intellectual property in the two core areas of optical fibre based confocal microscope systems and miniaturised confocal microscope scanners. Optiscan’s optical fibre confocal microscope patents will expire in July and August 2009, while the patents over the miniaturised scanning systems provide for significant extended protection through to 2019.
 
An examination process must be completed for a patent to be granted in each of the countries where it has been filed. This patent ‘prosecution’ process can take up to several years.
 
Listed below are the Optiscan patents, which have been granted in one or more of the countries where it has been filed.
In addition to the patents listed below Optiscan has a further 16 families of patent applications that have been filed in several countries and are awaiting the commencement of examination.

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Scanning Confocal Microscope




Title: Scanning Confocal Microscope
 
Inventors: Martin Harris and Timothy Dabbs
 
Patent Expiry: 13th July 2009
 
Countries Granted: Australia, US, Switzerland, France, UK, Italy, Germany, Japan
 
Abstract:
A scanning confocal epi-illumination microscope has a light source for supplying illumination and a light condenser for condensing light onto an object to illuminate a point observational field on or within the object, and for receiving light emanating from the point observational field on or within the object. A detector is provided for detecting object emanated light received by the light condenser, and a flexible optical fibre is provided to transmit light from the light source to the condenser and for transmitting the object emanated light received by the light condenser to the detector. A scanner is provided to cause relative movement between the object and the point observational field so that the point observational field traverses the object in a scanning pattern. This invention enables the light source and the detector to be located in any desired position without the need for a rigid mechanical connection between them in view of the optical fibre, which is used to transmit light between the condenser and the detector. Specific endoscope embodiments are also described.


Confocal Microscope




Title: Confocal Microscope
 
Inventors: Martin Harris and Timothy Dabbs
 
Patent Expiry: 3rd November 2009
 
Countries Granted: United States
 
Abstract:
A diffraction limited confocal microscope includes an energy source to provide focusable illuminating energy and a single mode energy guide comprising a core, an energy receiver and an energy exit. The energy guide is operationally associated with the energy source so that illuminating energy from the energy source is received by the energy receiver and coupled into the core and guided to the energy exit so as to emerge from the core at the energy exit. A first focuser is operationally associated with the energy exit to focus at least a portion of the illuminating energy emerging from the core into a diffraction limited spot pattern volume having a central portion which in use intersects an object. A second focuser is operationally associated with the first focuser to collect outgoing energy from the volume resulting from interaction between the illuminating energy in the volume and the object and/or resulting from transmission or reflection of illuminating energy from the volume. The microscope includes a detector with an aperture and a detecting element wherein the detector is operationally associated with the second focuser whereby the second focuser images the aperture onto the central portion wherein the numerical aperture, NA, of the outgoing energy originating from the central portion focused onto the aperture, the wavelength of the outgoing energy. Lambda., and the average diameter, d, of the aperture are related by the equation: NA<0.6 X lambda / d whereby the detector detects the outgoing energy.


Confocal Microscope




Title: Confocal Microscope
 
Inventor: Martin Harris
 
Patent Expiry: 21st June 2011
 
Countries Granted: United States
 
Abstract:
A tandem scanning confocal epi-illumination microscope comprising a light source, which may be a laser, for supplying a light beam to a light condenser, which may be a lens. The condenser focuses the light onto the object to be examined so as to illuminate a point observational field on or within the object. Reflected, fluorescent or scattered light from the illuminated point field is collected by the condenser and transmitted to a returning light receiver, which may be in the form of a camera carrying photographic film.


Confocal Microscope




Title: Confocal Microscope
 
Inventors: Martin Harris, Peter Delaney, and Roger King
 
Patent Expiry: 19th October 2013
 
Countries Granted: Australia and United States
 
Abstract:
This family includes a single Australian patent, which relates to a confocal microscope, which has a light beam transmitter in the form of optical fibres and an objective lens for receiving the light beam, and for focusing the light beam onto an object to illuminate a confined observational field on or within the object and for receiving light emanating from the confined observational field. The objective lens is physically independent of the transmitter so as to be positionable adjacent to an object to the view at a location separated from the transmitter by free space, and there is a beam aiming means for aiming the light beam from the transmitter to the objective lens through the free space.

Confocal Microscope




Title: Confocal Microscope
 
Inventor: Martin Harris
 
Patent Expiry: 8th February 2014
 
Countries Granted: Australia
 
Abstract:

 
This family includes a single Australian patent, which relates to a confocal microscope, which has a light beam transmitter in the form of optical fibres and an objective lens for receiving the light beam, and for focusing the light beam onto an object to illuminate a confined observational field on or within the object and for receiving light emanating from the confined observational field. The objective lens is physically independent of the transmitter so that It can be positioned adjacent to an object at a location separated from the transmitter by and there is a beam aiming means for aiming the light beam from the transmitter to the objective lens through the free space.

Optical Fibre Confocal Imager with Variable Near Confocal Control




Title: Optical Fibre Confocal Imager with Variable Near Confocal Control
 
Inventors: Martin Harris and Peter Delaney
 
Patent Expiry: 24th March 2016
 
Countries Granted: Australia and United States
 
Abstract:
A confocal imaging system using optical fibres is provided which has a flexible near confocal optical transmission means having a light collection end adjacent to a light collection of the confocal optical transmission means and adapted to transmit only near confocal light emerging from points in the object located within a range of distances above and below the focal plane, in such a manner that a selected portion of the near confocal light emerging from greater than any selected distance within the range is substantially separable from the remainder. The system also has variable selection means to exclude the selected portion from detection.

Scanning Microscope with Miniature Head




Title: Scanning Microscope with Miniature Head
 
Inventor: Martin Harris
 
Patent Expiry: 16th July 2018
 
Countries Granted: United Kingdom and United States
 
Abstract:
This application relates to a scanning microscope requiring miniature optical heads, which, in a preferred form, includes a tuning fork whose tines can be vibrated by driving means in mutually opposite phases. The vibration of the tines provides the fast scanner and the counterbalancing elements.
Examination of this patent is proceeding in USA and Germany

Two Photon Endoscope or Microscope Method and Apparatus




Title: Two Photon Endoscope or Microscope Method and Apparatus
 
Inventors: Martin Harris and Gavan Rosman
 
Patent Expiry: 17th June 2019
 
Countries Granted: United Kingdom
 
Abstract:
This patent relates to the use of an optical fibre for transmitting a pulsed main beam together with an initial dispersion according to wavelength so that the beam transmits the optic fibre to reduce the peak power of the beam within the optic fibre and then a compression means so that the beam arrives at the specimen in a compressed form. The ultra short-pulsed laser can generate two-photon excitation, which can obtain images from a greater depth and have reduced photo bleaching and the ability to excite UV dyes without the use of relatively unreliable UV lasers and special lenses.

Endoscope or Microscope Method and Apparatus




Title: Endoscope or Microscope Method and Apparatus
 
Inventors: Martin Harris and Gavan Rosman
 
Patent Expiry: 17th June 2019
 
Countries Granted: United Kingdom
 
Abstract:
This patent relates to an endoscope or microscope system with (i) a suction means for sample fixing and light transmission and collection and (ii) a synchronisation of the switching means (generally a shutter to the photodetector) so that in periods of acquisition the shutter is open and in periods of illumination the shutter occludes light from the photodetector and (iii) a filter to reduce ambient illumination light from the photodetector. These attributes for the system are required when a two-photon pulse laser illumination is used and the pulse broadening of the light in the fibre is minimised by the use of chirped fibre gratings to compress and reflect back the blue shorter and slower travelling, wavelength components of each pulse to ahead of the red, longer and faster travelling wavelength components of each pulse, to the coupler.

Compact Confocal Endoscope and Endomicroscope




Title: Compact Confocal Endoscope and Endomicroscope
 
Inventor: Martin Harris
 
Patent Expiry: 25th August 2019
 
Countries Granted: United Kingdom
 
Abstract:
This family of patents relates to an improved beam splitting device. Existing beam splitters employ partially mirrored surfaces or compound prisms, which are relatively bulky and are designed to function efficiently only when the two exit beams diverge at a relatively high angle (often 90°). This patented invention overcomes many of the limitations of the existing systems. This patent also covers embodiments with a laser diode attached to the end of a scanning mechanism. Examination is proceeding in USA and Germany.

Electronically Operated Tuning Fork




Title: Electronically Operated Tuning Fork
 
Inventors: Martin Harris, Gavan Rosman, and James Rudge
 
Patent Expiry: 8th June 2020
 
Countries Granted: Australia, Japan, Italy, Germany, France, United Kingdom and United States
 
Abstract:
An electrically operated tuning fork apparatus includes a tuning fork having a base and a pair of tines. The tines have tips remote from the base, and are formed of or include material in which a magnetic field can be induced. The tuning fork apparatus also includes an electrical coil configured to receive at least a portion of both tines of the tuning fork. At least one of the tines can be vibrated relative to the other of the tines by passing a varying current through the coil to induce mutually repulsive magnetic fields in the tines.

Z Sharpening for Fibre Confocal Microscopes




Title: Z Sharpening for Fibre Confocal Microscopes
 
Inventor: Martin Harris
 
Patent Expiry: 4th April 2020
 
Countries Granted: United Kingdom and United States
 
Abstract:
The present invention provides a method and apparatus for image sharpening in a confocal microscopy or endoscopy observation, the method comprising: collecting true confocal return light emanating from an observational field of an object; focussing the true confocal return light into a core of a fibre wave-guide; collecting near confocal return light from a volume partially overlapping the observational field and thereby defining an overlap volume; focussing the near confocal return light into the fibre wave-guide so as to be transmitted principally in a cladding of the fibre wave-guide; separately detecting the true confocal return light and the near confocal return light to produce a true confocal output signal and a near confocal output signal; and adjusting the true confocal output signal on the basis of the near confocal output signal to substantially eliminate from the true confocal output signal a component due to the near confocal output signal; whereby the effective volume of the observational field is reduced and the resolution of the observation is effectively increased.

Light Scanning Device




Title: Light Scanning Device
 
Inventor: Martin Harris
 
Patent Expiry: 10th June 2020
 
Countries Granted: United States
 
Abstract:
The invention provides a light scanning device for scanning light from a light source, the light scanning device having: a pivotably mounted mirror for receiving light from the light source; a counterbalance; and a drive for oscillatorily pivoting the mirror and the counterbalance simultaneously in opposite directions to reduce uncoupled forces.

Laser Scanning Confocal Microscope with Fibre Bundle Return




Title: Laser Scanning Confocal Microscope with Fibre Bundle Return
 
Inventor: Martin Harris
 
Patent Expiry: 24th April 2023
 
Countries Granted: United States
 
Abstract:
The invention provides a confocal microscope or endoscope, having a source of coherent light for illuminating a sample, and an imaging optical fibre bundle ( 82 ) for receiving return light, whereby the fibre bundle ( 82 ) provides a return channel for fluorescent return light ( 78 ). The optical fibre bundle ( 82 ) preferably preserves, between entry and exit ends of the bundle, the relative spatial coordinates of the cores of individual fibres constituting the bundle.

Scanning Method and Apparatus




Title: Scanning Method and Apparatus
 
Inventors: Martin Harris, Gavan Rosman, Chris Byrne, Brad Jones
 
Patent Expiry: 30th October 2023
 
Countries Granted: United States and United Kingdom
 
Abstract:
A scanning apparatus and method, the apparatus comprising: a light transmission means ( 90 ) having an exit tip; first and second drive means ( 92,94 ) for resonantly driving the light transmission means ( 90 ) in orthogonal directions; wherein the first and second drive means ( 92,94 ) are operable to move the tip in an elliptical pattern while varying the eccentricity of the elliptical pattern, whereby a portion of the elliptical pattern having a centre on the minor axis of the elliptical pattern approximates-at least in appearance-a raster pattern.

Method and Apparatus for Providing Depth Control or Z Actuation




Title: Method and Apparatus for Providing Depth Control or Z Actuation
 
Inventors: Byrne, Jones, Lemmens, Ni
 
Patent Expiry: 13th April 2024
 
Countries Granted: United States
 
Abstract:
A position control apparatus for controlling position along an axis, comprising: an extensible member that can be extended and contracted along said axis, comprising shape memory alloy locatable to expand and contract along said axis, heating means for controlling said temperature of said shape memory alloy, and a feedback mechanism for controlling said heating means and responsive to variations in said position, wherein said position is controllable by means of said heating means and can be stabilized by means of said feedback mechanism.

Optical Connector




Title: Optical Connector
 
Inventor: Pattie
 
Patent Expiry: 23rd March 2026
 
Countries Granted: United States
 
Abstract:
An optical connector for use with a light separator, the optical connector including a first portion and a second portion, the first portion being optically couplable by first optical transmitter to a first input of the light separator and by second optical transmitter to a second input of the light separator. The first and second portions are detachably couplable to couple the first and second optical transmitter to third and fourth optical transmitters, respectively, provided in or coupled to the second portion. The first and second inputs of the light separator can thereby be optically coupled to a first optical instrument coupled to the third optical transmitter and a second optical instrument coupled to the fourth optical transmitter.

Tuning Fork Type Scanning with Counterweight




Title: Tuning Fork Type Scanning with Counterweight
 
Inventors: Byrne, Rosman, and Pattie
 
Patent Expiry: 23rd September 2025
 
Countries Granted: United States
 
Abstract:
A scanning method and apparatus, the apparatus comprising a fork with first and second forwardly extending tines and a rearwardly extending counterweight member, a mount for supporting the fork at a point between the tines and the counterweight member, and a drive for effecting relative vibration between the tines to provide a fast scan and for driving the fork to provide a slow scan transverse to the fast scan.