MEMS 3-dimensional scanner with SU-8 flexures for a handheld confocal microscope
The conventional method for diagnosing skin cancer is to perform a biopsy followed by pathology. However not only are biopsies invasive and likely to leave permanent scarring, they also sample the body sparsely. Fortunately, a non-invasive method of imaging called confocal laser scanning microscopy has shown great potential to replacing invasive biopsies. Confocal microscopy can use light to achieve high-resolution imaging of cells that lie underneath the surface of the skin. However, the large size of current confocal microscopes limits their application to all but the most accessible sites. In this dissertation, I address the miniaturization of confocal microscopy through the development of a new microelectromechanical systems scan mirror that can scan a focused beam in three dimensions. The scanner has a 4 mm aperture, and has the capability to replace all of the bulky beam scanners and focus mechanisms that contribute to the large size of current confocal microscopes. The fabrication of the scanner explores the use of the polymer SU-8 for its mechanical structures. The gimbal mirror has demonstrated scan angles in excess of plus or minus 3° mechanical for lateral scanning, and its deformable surface provided controllable deflection up to 10 microns for focus control. This newly developed scanner was integrated into a confocal system to test its imaging capabilities. The device demonstrated high-resolution scanning with simultaneous focus adjustment suitable for the next generation of miniaturized confocal laser scanning microscopes.