Lafayette, CO, United States

Boulder Nonlinear Systems, Inc.

www.BNONLINEAR.COM
Lafayette, CO, United States
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Grant
Agency: Department of Health and Human Services | Branch: National Institutes of Health | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 998.89K | Year: 2015

DESCRIPTION provided by applicant The primary proposed objective is to realize a broadband high speed spatial light modulator SLM for microscopy applications Current microscopy techniques frequently employ spatial light modulators to manipulate the phase and amplitude of light illuminating a sample or and or transmitted by a sample The phase and amplitude of light in the microscope illumination and or imaging paths are engineered in application specific ways to improve resolution acquire quantitative data in addition to observational data and increase the rate of information throughput Current spatial light modulators are wavelength dependent and relatively slow for certain applications such as imaging neural activity Therefore microscopy methods employing this approach are restricted to collecting data at one wavelength and limited in the dynamic processes they can observe To overcome these limitations Boulder Nonlinear Systems proposes to capitalize in Phase II on the successful Phase I investigation of alternative phase modulation methods in a liquid crystal spatial light modulator The geometric phase modulation methods studied in Phase I are wavelength independent so modulation of the geometric phase by a SLM allows lateral x y phase modulation of the wave front over an extended wavelength range Implementation of this approach is currently limited by the low voltage of the backplanes on which the modulators are built The proposed Phase II effort will develop a high voltage backplane with which to implement a SLM based on geometric phase modulation Moreover the high voltage backplane will result in a minimum x increase in spatial light modulator speed over current technology with a possible path to x speed improvement The potential benefits of a high speed broadband spatial light modulator to the field of microscopy include expanded capability and increased commercial accessibility of current microscopy methods using spatial light modulators as well as new avenues for innovative applied microscopy research PUBLIC HEALTH RELEVANCE Wave front engineering is a multi disciplinary microscope system design approach often implemented with an x y variable light modulator which is changing the fundamental limits of optical imaging Realization of high speed kHz modulation across a broad range of wavelengths within the visible range may allow more efficient higher precision observation of dynamic biological and chemical processes Of particular interest is the potential application of the proposed technology to high speed D imagery for mapping neural pathways in the brain


Grant
Agency: Department of Health and Human Services | Branch: National Institutes of Health | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 149.99K | Year: 2016

Project summary The fast millisecond timescale of neuronal activity has posed a difficulty for D volumetric imaging whose speed is limited in part by the axial scan methods currently available The use of electrically tunable lenses ETLs for remote focusing confers speed and vibration reduction advantages over the more traditional sample stage or microscope objective motion but current state of the art ETLs are liquid lenses that still require mechanical movement from a piezo ring with their transition speed limited to ms by mechanical ringing We propose to build and test an ETL based on switchable liquid crystal polarization grating lenses LCPG lenses that can perform remote axial focusing at ms timescale an order of magnitude speed improvement over state of the art axial focusing techniques The LCPG lens is a nonmechanical device and thus has no ringing or hysteresis particularly useful for repeated scans of the same sample location or for superresolution techniques where absolute repeatability in axial position is key The speed of the LCPG lens is not linked to its aperture size and LCPG lenses can be easily made with mm or larger apertures avoiding vignetting by matching or exceeding the back aperture diameters of modern high performance objectives Unlike a piezo liquid ETL a LCPG lens can be made with any custom lens profile including aspherical and can include compensation for aberrations Although the LCPG lens offers discrete rather than continuous focal scanning these devices have andgt efficiency and can be stacked to produce as many focal planes as desired Using mm substrates an stage LCPG lens would be just mm thick but could achieve focal planes The Phase I LCPG lens will have stages and available focal planes with clear aperture and focal plane location tailored for use as a high speed remote focusing lens in a two photon P microscope system Specific aims LCPG lens fabrication Includes fabrication of both LCPG lenses and liquid crystal waveplate switches assembly into a cascaded stack index matching and addition of electrodes LCPG lens characterization Includes benchtop characterization of efficiency at the target wavelength switching speed and Shack Hartmann measurement of wavefront quality compared to the template lens Integration into CW microscope Using one of our existing CW microscope D spatial light modulator systems we will characterize the amount of focal length shift introduced by the LCPG lens along with the D focal spot sizes and aberrations in different focal planes Integration into P microscope We will directly compare the performance of the LCPG lens to the state of the art piezo liquid lens by replacing a piezo liquid ETL with the Phase I lens in a P microscope system used for D neuronal imaging We will gather feedback from this end user system to focus our further development efforts Project narrative To study the brain we need to be able to image the D interaction of neurons at a fast millisecond timescale However current D microscope scans rely on mechanical methods that are about x too slow We will introduce a nonmechanical millisecond timescale D scan method that uses liquid crystal polarization grating LCPG lenses


Grant
Agency: Department of Health and Human Services | Branch: National Institutes of Health | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 1.27M | Year: 2015

DESCRIPTION provided by applicant Improving our understanding of the functional circuitry of the brain has important and manifold implications for our understanding of mental health as well as fields like consciousness and computing In the last decade optical techniques have arisen that allow both recording and control of targeted neurons for brain mapping and many of the best of these techniques employ multiphoton microscopes with spatial light modulator SLM technology and complex algorithms to shape the light and analyze increasingly large neural microcircuits in three dimensions D SLMs can arbitrarily shape the wavefront of light to create multiple independently targeted beams in D to control groups of neurons with the maximum number of studied neurons being limited primarily by the laser power on the SLM Because the SLM can mimic nearly any optical element these versatile tools also provide additional capabilities when incorporated into microscopes such as adaptive aberration correction and remote focusing Despite the potential for SLMs to revolutionize the microscopes used in neuroscience their adoption remains limited by the difficulty in incorporating the SLM into the expensive multiphoton microscope platforms used by investigators and by the complexity of integrating SLM control into the microscopy software In this Phase II effort Boulder Nonlinear Systems BNS and Dr Darcy Peterka and the Yuste laboratory at Columbia University will address this barrier by developing a user friendly bolt on SLM module for existing multiphoton microscopes along with full software integration of the SLM into both open source and commercial microscopy software This work will leverage knowledge gained during the Phase I development of the Pocketscope a portable and low cost SLM microscope for simple in vitro neuroscience studies and integrate close feedback from a range of industry partners and leaders in neuroscience As part of this work BNS will also improve the speed power handling and reliability of the SLMs and utilize their strategic commercial partner Meadowlark Optics to bring down SLM cost and improve software integration Successful completion of this project will result in the new SLM based microscope module platform indpendent software integration and improved SLM joining the Phase I Pocketscope to provide a suite of powerful tools each with their own impact and commercial niche capable of transforming the optical exploration of neural networks PUBLIC HEALTH RELEVANCE Improving our understanding of the functional circuitry of the brain has important and manifold implications for our understanding of mental health as well as fields like consciousness and computing In the last decade optical techniques have arisen that allow both recording and control of targeted neurons for brain mapping and many of the best of these techniques employ multiphoton microscopes with spatial light modulator SLM technology and complex algorithms to shape the light and analyze increasingly large neural microcircuits in three dimensions This project seeks to improve the adoption and dissemination of this powerful technique through close collaborations with industry and the neuroscience community to develop a user friendly add on SLM module and software for existing multiphoton microscopes


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Air Force | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 749.28K | Year: 2015

ABSTRACT: A SWIR 3D imaging LADAR architecture is proposed in which it shares the aperture with a FLIR sensor. To enable this combined passive and active sensor system, wide angle non-mechanical beam steering (NMBS) will be implemented at the exit window/entrance pupil of the system. Due to the large steering angles the SWIR LADAR is not constrained to the FOV of the passive MWIR sensor, freeing it from the constraints of the direction in which the FLIR is pointing. Boulder Nonlinear Systems (BNS) and our teaming partners, ImagineOptix, and Exciting Technology, will build a prototype shared aperture 3D SWIR LADAR/FLIR system. Using polarization grating technology, and MWIR transparent liquid crystal switches, the 3D SWIR LADAR light will be steered without diffracting the MWIR light that is being collected by the FLIR. With this approach we expect to enhance the capabilities of the sensor system. BENEFIT: The effort proposed here represents an improvement to 3D LADAR imaging and passive and active IR sensors. Several DoD platforms could benefit from the shared aperture approach. In addition commercial 3D mapping would benefit from increased field of view and multispectral capability.


Grant
Agency: Department of Health and Human Services | Branch: National Institutes of Health | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 151.34K | Year: 2015

DESCRIPTION provided by applicant Improving our understanding of the fundamental circuitry and dynamics of the brain has far reaching implications for a wide range of fields including mental health computing and the philosophy of the mind To this end one of the critical questions currently facing neuroscientists lies in how brain states and behaviors arise from the activity of ensembles of neurons Currently efforts to answer this question are hampered in part by the disconnect between the sub millimeter length scales accessible to the optical techniques used to probe cellular level dynamics and the millimeter scale resolution available to the whole brain imaging techniques used to monitor brain states Boulder Nonlinear Systems BNS and Prof Edward Boydenandapos s Synthetic Neurobiology Group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology MIT Media Lab propose a novel two phase design effort to overcome this andquot imaging gapandquot to improve functional mapping of brain networks The critical barrier to increasing the field of view FOV and speed in many cutting edge optical techniques is the spatial light modulator SLM which enables the generation of many independent andquot beamletsandquot capable of activating and recording neural activity simultaneously across ensembles of neurons in three dimensions Phase I will address this barrier by developing and deploying new modeling capabilities which will then be available to the optical design community to determine the SLM specifications and optical system required to provide a mm FOV and ms switching speed in a practical holographic multiphoton microscope These capabilities will increase the accessible volume of brain tissue by more than an order of magnitude in comparison with the current literature while reducing the SLM response time down to the level of single neuron firing events action potentials In Phase II BNS and MIT will develop the new next generation SLM and evaluate it in functional neural mapping experiments The impact of this project will be multifold we will develop new modeling capabilities to enable optical designers and researchers to properly simulate SLM based optical systems for the first time and we will use this holistic modeling approach to develop a new SLM device with vastly superior performance than anything on the current market This next generation SLM is predicted to have a powerful impact in the field of neuroscience and find a wide commercial market across many disciplines PUBLIC HEALTH RELEVANCE Optical techniques using spatial light modulators SLMs are revolutionizing our ability to probe and manipulate neural networks in living brains at the cellula level Currently the limited volumes of tissue that can be accessed with these techniques hamper the ability to study the dynamics of large ensembles of neurons This two phase development effort will result in an SLM capable of increasing the accessible volume of tissue by more than an order of magnitude while bringing the temporal response time down to the millisecond timescale of neuron firing for improved functional mapping of neural networks


Grant
Agency: Department of Health and Human Services | Branch: National Institutes of Health | Program: STTR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 982.10K | Year: 2015

DESCRIPTION provided by applicant Nonlinear optical microscopy techniques and particularly multiphoton fluorescence microscopy have become popular tools for visualizing the three dimensional cellular architecture residing hundreds of microns and up to one millimeter deep in living organisms This is particularly valuable in neurobiology where multiphoton techniques have become widely used for mapping monitoring and manipulating neural networks in the mouse cortex and other model organisms In living neural networks and in many other applications fast imaging speed is required to temporally resolve dynamic processes reduce motion artifacts and limit the stress to the organism being studied In this Phase II proposal we will build upon techniques developed in Phase I to produce a andquot bolt onandquot microscope module that greatly increases the imaging speed while reducing disruption to the specimen and that can be easily integrated with existing multiphoton microscope systems The module will achieve these goals through the creative use of high performance spatial light modulators and fully integrated software resulting in a user friendly system capable of being set up and used by non expert microscopists The use of versatile spatial light modulator technology also enables further expansion of imaging capabilities and modalities through future software updates PUBLIC HEALTH RELEVANCE Multiphoton microscopy is a widely used tool for three dimensional imaging throughout biology and has found particularly widespread use in the exploration and mapping of the brain Current applications particularly in neuroscience require increased imaging speed and a means of fast volumetric imaging that does not disturb the sample The proposed research will develop a novel turnkey andquot bolt onandquot optical module capable of vastly increasing imaging speed deep in scattering tissues without any mechanical movements near the specimen thus greatly enhancing the performance of existing multiphoton microscopes and directly addressing one of the greatest needs of the microscopy community


Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: STTR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 124.72K | Year: 2016

Boulder Nonlinear Systems (BNS) and University of Dayton (UD) will team on development of a non-mechanical beam steering (NMBS) subsystem for Entry, Descent and Landing (EDL) sensors. BNS will improve their current polarization grating (PG) technology which is capable of switching well over the +- 25 degree requirement called for in the solicitation. Advances to the PG technology specific to the NASA EDL application will include improved throughput, and significant weight reduction by combining components and drastically reducing substrate thicknesses. In addition BNS and UD will develop an environmental test plan tailored to an EDL mission. The PG technology is a coarse steering technology and a NMBS system employing it would be improved by adding fine angle continuous steering capability. UD will leverage its Electro-optic (EO) Crystal center and investigate continuous fine steering based on EO crystals. In addition UD will also tap into its LADAR expertise at the LADAR and Optical Communications Institute (LOCI) to provide systems level analysis to design a NMBS prototype which will be built in Phase II.


Grant
Agency: Department of Health and Human Services | Branch: National Institutes of Health | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 523.36K | Year: 2016

Boulder Nonlinear Systems BNS and Prof Edward Boyden s Synthetic Neurobiology Group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology MIT Media Lab propose to develop a new liquid crystal spatial light modulator SLM capable generating high resolution holograms to overcome the imaging gap that currently divides cellular level optogenetic techniques and whole brain techniques to improve functional mapping dissection of complex brain networks This effort builds upon the successful Phase I effort in which new modeling techniques were developed to guide this Phase II hardware development Whole brain imaging techniques such as functional magnetic resonance imaging fMRI and diffusion tensor imaging DTI are powerful tools for visualizing neural activity and connections respectively across regions of the brain however their spatial resolution is limited to the millimeter scale and therefore they cannot resolve individual neurons Meanwhile optical imaging and photostimulation provide complimentary tools that allow not only direct imaging of neurons and their action potentials but also the ability to directly stimulate action potentials all with single cell resolution over small sub millimeter volumes This disconnect between the length scales of whole brain imaging and optical techniques the so called imaging gap is one of the critical barriers to understanding how coherent states arise from the activity of neuronal ensembles In Phase I BNS and MIT worked with Zemax Inc to develop a new optical modeling capability able to simulate holographic microscopy with pixelated phase modulating SLMs Using this new modeling capability BNS identified the barriers to closing the imaging gap by holographically addressing a mm volume of tissue Specifically we identified the need for a new SLM that optimally balances the trade offs between addressable field of view resolution and switching speed and for corrective optics that undo the lateral chromatic dispersion experienced by the ultrashort laser pulses used for deep tissue microscopy In Phase II BNS will develop a next generation SLM consisting of a V pixel backplane designed to achieve or exceed ms switching speed This device will be delivered via custom corrective optics into a commercial microscope at MIT for demonstration of holographic interrogation of neuronal ensembles over a mm volume of tissue There is an optical revolution underway in neuroscience that is providing researchers with new tools to both record and control neural activity with light at the cellular level Spatial light modulators are one such tool and they enable the projection of three dimensional holograms into the brain capable of probing many hundreds of neurons at once This proposed Phase II effort aims to develop the next generation of spatial light modulator to dramatically increase the volume of brain that can be studied with this technique so that neuroscientists can better understand the larger context of neural activity


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Air Force | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 943.44K | Year: 2014

ABSTRACT: The focus of this Phase II effort is to deliver a non-mechanical laser beam directional control unit that is small and lightweight, while minimizing power consumption for use on unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) laser radar units. Development of small, compact, low-power laser radars on small dynamic platforms is a difficult problem because of the pointing accuracy, open and closed loop scanning rates, angle coverage, and aperture size needed for the optical system. A workable solution is to combine a few techniques to decouple the requirements. By using this approach, coarse- and fine-angle steerers, including mechanical and non-mechanical approaches, are combined to provide the coverage and accuracy needed for the application. The techniques of interest have the ability to scale to large apertures, provide fast and accurate pointing and tracking without greatly complicating the system design, and minimize size, weight and power. In Phase II, Boulder Nonlinear Systems (BNS) will fabricate a prototype beam control subsystem designed for UAV operational environments and deliver this subsystem to our transition partner. In Phase III, the transition partner will verify performance, integrate the subsystem into a laser radar sensor and test in a near-operational environment. BENEFIT: Optical pointing and tracking is a major issue for a variety of applications including free space optical communications, remote sensing, and weapon guidance. The proposed beam control subsystem will reduce the size, weight, and power requirements of UAV laser radars units using less expensive, less complicated, more reliable components while providing high-speed, random access beam control. The technology has the potential to provide a cost savings of approximately $99M over a five year period compared to current mechanical beam steering assemblies.


Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 124.91K | Year: 2016

We propose the use of a phase reconfigurable spatial light modulator (SLM) in place of a static computer generated hologram (CGH) in interferometric test systems for next generation meter class telescope optics. A liquid crystal on silicon (LCoS) SLM offers additional flexibility, potentially higher measurement precision, and relaxed alignment requirements over static CGHs. Programmable phase provides the user with the ability to test different optical components without requiring the design of a different CGH in each case. Applying the phase to the SLM in-situ, to generate the optical null, greatly relaxes the requirements for the critical alignment precision associated with CGHs. Additional measurement precision may be achieved by applying additional piston phase changes to the SLM hologram in the manner of a vibration free phase shifting interferometer. Phase errors due to air currents could potentially be removed on the fly, and phase errors in other system components could also be compensated. Phase I examines a small format 512x512 10 bit SLM on a benchtop test interferometer to validate the concept using commercial off the shelf (COTS) components. A phase II continuation would implement a 31mm square large format 1536x1536 SLM with 768 waves of applicable phase stroke.

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