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  1. Abstract

    This decade has witnessed the tremendous progress in miniaturizing optical imaging systems. Despite the advancements in 3D printing optical lenses at increasingly smaller dimensions, challenges remain in precisely manufacturing the dimensionally compatible optomechanical components and assembling them into a functional imaging system. To tackle this issue, the use of 3D printing to enable digitalized optomechanical component manufacturing, part‐count‐reduction design, and the inclusion of passive alignment features is reported here, all for the ease of system assembly. The key optomechanical components of a penny‐sized accommodating optical microscope are 3D printed in 50 min at a significantly reduced unit cost near $4. By actuating a built‐in voice‐coil motor, its accommodating capability is validated to focus on specimens located at different distances, and a focus‐stacking function is further utilized to greatly extend depth of field. The microscope can be readily customized and rapidly manufactured to respond to task‐specific needs in form factor and optical characteristics.

     
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  2. Abstract

    Chronic cranial window (CCW) is an essential tool in enabling longitudinal imaging and manipulation of various brain activities in live animals. However, an active CCW capable of sensing the concealed in vivo environment while simultaneously providing longitudinal optical access to the brain is not currently available. Here we report a disposable ultrasound-sensing CCW (usCCW) featuring an integrated transparent nanophotonic ultrasonic detector fabricated using soft nanoimprint lithography process. We optimize the sensor design and the associated fabrication process to significantly improve detection sensitivity and reliability, which are critical for the intend longitudinal in vivo investigations. Surgically implanting the usCCW on the skull creates a self-contained environment, maintaining optical access while eliminating the need for external ultrasound coupling medium for photoacoustic imaging. Using this usCCW, we demonstrate photoacoustic microscopy of cortical vascular network in live mice over 28 days. This work establishes the foundation for integrating photoacoustic imaging with modern brain research.

     
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  3. Abstract

    3D printing, formally known as additive manufacturing, creates complex geometries via layer‐by‐layer addition of materials. While 3D printing has been historically perceived as the static addition of build layers, 3D printing is now considered as a dynamic assembly process. In this context, here a new 3D printing process is reported that executes full degree‐of‐freedom (DOF) transformation (translating, rotating, and scaling) of each individual building layer while utilizing continuous fabrication techniques. Transforming individual building layers within the sequential layered manufacturing process enables dynamic transformation of the 3D printed parts on‐the‐fly, eliminating the time‐consuming redesign steps. Preserving the locality of the transformation to each layer further enables the discrete conformal transformation, allowing objects such as vascular scaffolds to be optimally fabricated to properly fit within specific patient anatomy obtained from the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) measurements. Finally, exploiting the freedom to control the orientation of each individual building layer, multimaterials, multiaxis 3D printing capability are further established for integrating functional modules made of dissimilar materials in 3D printed devices. This final capability is demonstrated through 3D printing a soft pneumatic gripper via heterogenous integration of rigid base and soft actuating limbs.

     
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  4. Abstract

    Synergizing grayscale photopolymerization and meniscus coating processes, rapid 3D printing of optical lenses is reported previously using projection microstereolithography (PµSL) process. Despite its 14 000‐fold‐improved printing speed over the femtosecond 3D printing process, PµSL still consumes significant amount of the fabrication time for precise recoating 5 µm thick fresh resin layers. At the reported speed of 24.54 mm3h−1, 3D printing of the millimeter‐size lenses still takes hours. To further improve the printing speed, the microcontinuous liquid interface production process is implemented to eliminate the time‐consuming resin recoating step. However, the micrometer‐size pores in the Teflon membrane needed for oxygen transportation are found to completely spoil the surface smoothness. The use of polydimethylsiloxane thin film possessing much refined nanoscopic porosities as the functional substitute of Teflon membrane is reported to significantly reduce the surface roughness to 13.7 nm. 3D printing of 3 mm high aspherical lens in ≈2 min at a 200‐fold‐improved speed at 4.85 × 103mm3h−1is demonstrated. The 3D printed aspherical lens has the demonstrated imaging resolution of 3.10 µm. This work represents a significant step in tackling the speed‐accuracy trade‐off of 3D printing process and thus enables rapid fabrication of customized optical components.

     
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