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MEASURING APPARATUS WITH OPTICALLY
CONJUGATE RADIATION FULCRUM AND
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
1. Field of the Invention
This invention relates to a measuring apparatus for applying light, for example, to an object to be examined and measuring scattered light and fluorescence radiated from the object to be examined.
2. Related Background Art
Flow cytometers, particle counters, foreign substance defect inspecting apparatuses, etc. are known as 15 examples of a measuring apparatus for applying a radiation beam such as a laser beam to an object to be examined and measuring scattered light and fluorescence radiated from the object to be examined, and have been widely used in the fields of biology, medical treatment, 2Q semiconductors and other industries.
Generally, in a precise optical measuring apparatus, a laser beam excellent in monochromatism and light condensing property is used as a light source. Usually, however, the pointing of the laser beam minutely flue- 25 tuates at a frequency of 100 Hz or more and at the same time, this pointing also fluctuates gently due to the heat contraction of a laser holding mechanism. Consequently, in the optical system of the prior-art measuring apparatus, accurate control of the applied position of 30 the laser beam has been difficult and further improvement in measurement accuracy has not been easy.
Also, if a fluid system for flowing a particle is unstable, the particle flowing through a flow path will fluctuate from its original position in a direction orthogonal to 35 the flow path. In this case, the intensity of the laser beam assumes Gaussian distribution and therefore, when the position of the particle fluctuates relative to the applied laser beam, the intensity of the laser beam applied to the particle changes and thus, the intensity of 40 scattered light radiated from the particle or the fluorescence excited by the laser beam becomes unstable and accurate measurement of the particle becomes difficult.
So, in order to solve this problem, the spot shape of the applied laser beam has heretofore been made into an 45 elliptical shape having a major axis in a direction orthogonal to the flow of the particle. Thus, the intensity distribution of the applied laser beam spreads and the variation in the intensity of the applied beam in a direction orthogonal to the flow decreases and therefore, 50 even if the position of the particle somewhat moves in said direction relative to the applied laser beam, the fluctuation of the intensity of the applied laser beam impinging on the particle can be suppressed.
In this method, however, the cross-sectional area of 55 the applied laser beam becomes large and therefore, the density of the light energy applied to the particle decreases and as a result, the intensities of scattered light and fluorescence radiated from the particle become weak and the S/N ratio of a signal detected by a detec- 60 tor becomes low. To compensate for this, a laser source emitting a powerful laser beam can be used, but this will lead to the bulkiness and increased cost of the apparatus.
pointing of radiation energy without leading to the bulkiness and increased cost of the apparatus.
The measuring apparatus of the present invention which achieves this object has an energy radiation source, applying means for applying radiation energy from said energy radiation source to an object to be examined, and detecting means for detecting the characteristic of said object to be examined, and is characterized in that said applying means makes the fulcrum of the fluctuation of the pointing of said radiation energy and an irradiation area in which said object to be examined is irradiated with the radiation energy substantially conjugate with each other.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
FIG. 1 is an illustration representing the imaged state of a laser beam (Gaussian beam).
FIG. 2 is an illustration of an inclination correcting irradiation optical system.
FIG. 3 shows the general construction of a flow cytometer.
FIG. 4 shows the construction of a flow cytometer irradiation optical system according to a first embodiment of the present invention.
FIGS. 5A and 5B show the construction of an irradiation optical system according to a second embodiment of the present invention.
FIGS. 6A and 6B show the construction of an irradiation optical system according to a third embodiment of the present invention.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED
In describing some embodiments of the present invention, description will first be made of the basic concept of the present invention. Generally, the diameter and position of the beam waist of a laser beam are expressed by the following equations (1) and (2) (see FIG. 1). In the following equations, wo is the diameter of the object side beam waist, wo' is the diameter of the image side beam waist, zo is the distance between the lens and the object side beam waist, zo' is the distance between the lens and the image side beam waist, f is the focal length of the lens, and X is the wavelength of the light.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
It is the object of the present invention to provide a measuring apparatus which can accomplish accurate measurement irrespective of the fluctuation of the
The image side focus position of the first lens 33 and the object side focus position of the second lens 34 are confocal dispositions which are the same positions and
therefore, if from equation (2), the beam waist is placed at the object side focus position of the first lens 33, a beam waist expressed by equation (4) will occur at the image side focus position of the second lens 34.
On the other hand, as indicated by dotted lines in 5 FIG. 2, the object side focus position of the first lens 33 and the image side focus position of the second lens 34 are conjugate with each other and therefore, a ray which has passed the object side focus position of the first lens 33 passes the image side focus position of the 10 second lens 34 irrespective of the angle thereof.
Although it differs more or less depending on the disposition of a mirror constituting a laser resonator, it is known that generally a laser forms a beam waist near the output mirror thereof and therefore, if the output 15 mirror 32 of the laser is placed at the object side focus position of the first lens 33 and an irradiation area 35 is placed at the image side focus position of the second lens, a beam waist will be formed in the irradiation area 35 without being defocused and the position of the laser beam entering the irradiation area 35 will not fluctuate irrespective of the angle at which the laser beam emerges from the output mirror 32.
As previously described, the pointing of a laser beam 2J fluctuates minutely with time and the fluctuation of the directionality of particularly 100 Hz or more occurs with a laser output mirror as the fulcrum. Consequently, if the mirror and the irradiation area are made conjugate with each other, the applied spot position in the laser 3Q irradiation area will not fluctuate even if the pointing of the laser beam fluctuates. Also, the pointing of the laser beam is gently fluctuated by the heat contraction of a laser supporting mechanism, but the fulcrum of this fluctuation of the pointing often exists near the laser 35 mirror and therefore, by the laser output mirror and the irradiation area being also made conjugate with each other, the fluctuation of the laser applied position can be suppressed. This irradiation optical system having the optical correcting function will hereinafter be called the 4Q "inclination correcting irradiation system".
A more specific embodiment will now be described. FIG. 3 shows the general construction of an embodi- 45 ment in which the present invention is applied to a flow cytometer. Sample liquid such as blood is dyed with a fluorescent reagent as a preparation and is regulated to an appropriate reaction time and diluted concentration. This is then put into a sample liquid container 115. Also, 50 sheath liquid such as distilled water or physiological salin solution is put into a sheath liquid container 114. The sample liquid container 115 and the sheath liquid container 114 each are pressurized by a pressurizing mechanism, not shown. Thereupon, in a flow cell 5, the 55 sample liquid is wrapped in the sheath liquid and converged into a thin stream, and passes substantially the center of the flow path portion in the flow cell 5. At this time, individual particles (such as cells, microbes or carrier particles) wrapped in the sample liquid are sepa- 60 rated and flow successively one by one. A laser beam emitter from a laser source unit 1 is applied to this flow of particles by an irradiation optical system having lenses 3 and 4. The irradiation optical system, as will be described later, makes the fulcrum of the fluctuation of 65 the pointing of the laser beam emitted from the laser source unit 1 and the irradiated position of the flow cell optically conjugate with each other.
When the light beam is applied to the particles, scattered lights and fluorescence are radiated. Of the scattered lights, forward scattered light radiated in the forward direction of the optical path is metered by a detection system for forward scattered light comprising a condensing lens 105 and a photodetector 106. A lightabsorbent minute stopper 100 is provided short of the condensing lens 105 in the optical path to prevent the applied light beam from directly entering the photodetector 106, so that the direct light from the irradiation light source and transmitted light transmitted through the particles may be eliminated. Thereby only the scattered light from the particles can be metered.
Also, light emitted from the irradiated particles in a lateral direction orthogonal to the optical axis of the laser and the flow of the particles is condensed by a condensing lens 107. A scattered light in such direction is called as side scattered light. The condensed light is reflected by a dichroic mirror 108 and passes through a band-pass filter 121 selectively transmitting therethrough the wavelength of the scattered light, i.e., the wavelength of the laser beam (in the case of an Ar+ laser, 488 nm) and the side scattered light is metered by a photodetector 111. Also, where the particles are fluorescence-dyed, of fluorescences condensed by the condensing lens 107 and transmitted through the dichroic mirror 108, green fluorescence is detected by a set of a dichroic mirror 109, a band-pass filter 122 for green fluorescence wavelength (in the vicinity of 530 nm) and a photodetector 112 to meter fluorescences of plural colors radiated with the scattered light, and the signals of a band-pass filter 123 for red fluorescence wavelength (in the vicinity of 570 nm) and photodetectors 106, 111, 112 and 113 are input to a calculation circuit 116, in which calculations such as the counting of the particles and the analysis of the kinds and properties of the particles are effected.
FIG. 4 shows the construction of the irradiation optical system of the present embodiment. The reference numeral 1 designates a laser emitting portion and the reference numeral 2 denotes a laser output mirror, and these together constitute a laser source unit. A laser beam emitted from the laser emitting portion 1 has its beam diameter changed by a beam compressor comprising a set of convex lenses 3 and 4 forming a confocal arrangement and is applied to an irradiation area 6 in a flow cell 5. Cells which are objects to be examined are individually flowing in the irradiation area 6, and radiate scattered lights and fluorescences conforming to the characteristics thereof by the applied laser beam. These are detected by a detection system 7 for forward scattered light and a detection system 8 for side scattered light and fluorescence.
In the irradiation optical system of the prior-art flow cytometer, the irradiation area has been located at the focus position of a condensing lens, that is, infinity and the irradiation area have been made conjugate with each other, and therefore, there has been the problem that the irradiation position will move if the pointing of the laser beam fluctuates, whereas the present embodiment is the aforedescribed inclination correcting irradiation optical system and therefore, the laser beam applied position in the flow cell is always kept constant and the fluctuation of the intensity of the irradiating light applied to the particles becomes null. Consequently, as compared with the prior art, the measurement of the quantities of scattered light and fluorescence can be effected more accurately. At the same
time, for the reason already set forth, the beam waist can be accurately formed at the irradiation position without being defocused and therefore, the fluctuation of the beam diameter is minimized and the accurate measurement of the quantities of scattered light and 5 fluorescence can be accomplished. That is, according to the present embodiment, the irradiation position is accurately controlled by the use of the inclination correcting irradiation optical system, whereby there is provided an optical measuring apparatus of very high accuracy. io
Description will now be made of a second embodiment which is a further improvement over the abovedescribed embodiment. FIGS. 5A and 5B show the 15 construction of an irradiation optical system according to the second embodiment, FIG. 5A being a cross-sectional view taken in parallel to the flow path of cells, and FIG. 5B being a cross-sectional view taken perpendicularly to the flow path of cells. In these figures, the 20 reference numeral 41 designates a. laser beam emitting portion, the reference numeral 42 denotes a laser output mirror, the reference numeral 43 designates a cylindrical lens of a meridional direction focal length f3=50 mm, the reference numeral 44 denotes a convex lens of 25 a focal length f4=20 mm, the reference numeral 45 designates a flow cell, and the reference numeral 46 denotes an irradiation area. As is apparent from these figures, the present embodiment constitutes an anamorphic optical system and therefore will be described by -»q each cross-section.
In FIG. 5A, a laser beam emitted from the laser beam emitting portion 41 through the laser output mirror 42 is rectilinearly transmitted through the cylindrical lens 43 having no power in this direction and is condensed on 35 the irradiation area 46 in the flow cell 45 by the convex lens 44. When the diameter of the laser beam in the laser output mirror 42 is di = l mm, the diameter di of the laser beam in a direction parallel to the flow path in the irradiation area is expressed by the following equation, ^ where the wavelength X=488 nm.
</2=4W(irrfi)= 12.4 Own) (5)
On the other hand in FIG. 5B, a laser beam emitted also from the laser beam emitting portion 41 through 45 the laser output mirror 42 has its beam diameter changed by the cylindrical lens 43 and convex lens 44 constituting a beam compressor and enters the irradiation area 46. The diameter d3 of the laser beam in a direction orthogonal to the flow path in the irradiation 50 area 46 can be calculated from equation (4).
Measurement accuracy will now be considered. In 55 the cross-section of FIG. 5A, it is the convex lens 44 alone that has power, and the irradiation area 46 is disposed at the focus position of the convex lens 44 and therefore, when the directionality of the laser fluctuates, the irradiation position of the laser moves along 60 the flow path. However, cells are also moving along the flow path and therefore, the fluctuation of the irradiation position in the direction of the flow path has nothing to do with the stability of the measured value.
On the other hand, in a direction orthogonal to the 65 flow path, the fluctuation of the irradiation position brings about a variation in the measured value, as previously described, but since the cross-section of FIG. 5B
constitutes an inclination correcting irradiation system as in the first embodiment, the stability of the irradiation position is realized in this direction. Moreover, ... and therefore, even if the stability of the flow path position is more or less low, the measured value can be stabilized relatively.
Now, generally, in a flow cytometer, two cylindrical lenses, a beam diameter changing prism, etc. are used to make laser irradiation light into an elliptical shape and the aspect ratio of the laser beam diameter, i.e., the ratio between d2 and d3, is of the order of 1 to 10, but in the present embodiment, even the order of 1 to 3.2 is sufficient, and the reduction in the energy density of the applied laser beam is suppressed and yet highly accurate measurement free of the fluctuation of the irradiation position is realized. Accordingly, an expensive powerful laser is unnecessary. Usually, a cylindrical lens is difficult and expensive to manufacture and is generally made into a plano-convex lens having one surface thereof made flat and therefore, aberrations cannot sometimes be sufficiently corrected particularly by a lens of a short focal length. In the present embodiment, however, a long focus cylindrical lens and a short focus biconvex spherical lens are used to thereby curtail the number of cylindrical lenses, and this leads to the merit that costs are reduced and the imaging performance can be improved. Also, if said short focus biconvex spherical lens is substituted for by an achromatic lens like a microscope objective lens, countermeasure will become easy also when the wavelength of the light source is changed.
As described above, in the measuring apparatus wherein the object to be examined flows along the flow path, the inclination correcting optical system is adopted in the direction orthogonal to the flow path, whereby the variation in the quantity of light in the irradiation area can be reduced and accurate measurement can be realized without the use of a large laser.
In the second embodiment, in the measuring apparatus wherein the object to be examined flows along the flow path, the inclination correcting irradiation system is adopted in the direction orthogonal to the flow path to thereby realize highly accurate measurement, while in a third embodiment, the alignment of the laser beam application position is further improyed.
The laminar flow system adopted in a flow cytometer is a technique excellent in letting an object to be examined such as a cell flow stably and accurately, but through which location in the flow cell the object to be examined flows cannot be seen until the object to be examined is let flow. This leads to the problem that the adjustment of the alignment cannot be accomplished by an optical system alone and the final adjustment of the alignment cannot be-done until actually the object to be examined begins to flow. Against this problem, as seen in U.S. Pat. No. 4,989,977, a glass plate or the like has heretofore been provided between the irradiation optical system and the irradiation area and it has been inclined to thereby effect the final alignment of the laser beam application position. In this method, however, the glass plate is placed at a location whereat the irradiating light is not parallel and therefore, not only aberrations occur and an accurate spot is not obtained, but also a ghost image is created by the glass plate and wrong measurement is effected. Further, the irradiation posi