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Two-photon direct laser writing of ultracompact multi-lens objectives

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Current lens systems are restricted in size, shape and dimensions by limitations of manufacturing. Multi-lens elements with non-spherical shapes are required for high optical performance and to correct for aberrations when imaging at wide angles and large fields. Here we present a novel concept in optics that overcomes all of the aforementioned difficulties and opens the new field of 3D printed micro- and nano-optics with complex lens designs. We demonstrate the complete process chain, from optical design, manufacturing by femtosecond two-photon direct laser writing and testing to the application of multi-lens objectives with sizes around 100 µm, and validate their high performance and functionality by quantitative measurements of the modulation transfer function and aberrations. The unprecedented flexibility of our method paves the way towards printed optical miniature instruments such as endoscopes, fibre-imaging systems for cell biology, new illumination systems, miniature optical fibre traps, integrated quantum emitters and detectors, and miniature drones and robots with autonomous vision.

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Figure 1: Coloured SEM image of a triplet lens objective attached to an optical fibre inserted into the hollow needle of a syringe.
Figure 2: Comparison of singlet, doublet and triplet printed lens systems.
Figure 3: Performance measurement using the USAF 1951 resolution test chart, the Telefunken FuBK test card and the knife-edge methodology to determine the MTF.
Figure 4: Measurement of the longitudinal (axial) chromatic aberration.
Figure 5: Regular arrangement of doublet lens systems directly fabricated on a CMOS image sensor.
Figure 6: Triplet objective lens system fabricated directly on an imaging fibre.

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  • 06 July 2016

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We gratefully acknowledge financial support from the DFG (SPP1391, FOR730 and GI 269/11-1), BMBF (13N10146, PRINTOPTICS), Baden-Württemberg Stiftung (Internationale Spitzenforschung II and Intelligente Optische Sensorik) and ERC (COMPLEXPLAS). We would like to thank B. Frank for performing atomic force microscope measurements and T. Mappes from Carl Zeiss AG for help with the lens characterization. We would like to thank M. Grauer for strong support.

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Authors and Affiliations



T.G., S.T. and H.G. conceived the concept. T.G. performed simulations, structural designs, direct laser writing and experimental characterization. S.T. and A.H. were responsible for optical and structural design. H.G. participated in planning the experiments and supervised the project. All authors participated in discussions and contributed to writing of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Timo Gissibl.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Gissibl, T., Thiele, S., Herkommer, A. et al. Two-photon direct laser writing of ultracompact multi-lens objectives. Nature Photon 10, 554–560 (2016).

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