Micromirror arrays (MMA) are spatial light modulators (SLM) used in a wide variety of applications for structured light manipulation i.e. structured illumination microscopy.
In our setup, we use a combination of two micromirror arrays, which allow not only to spatially structure the light in the field of view, but also to control the direction and angle of the incident light. In order to achieve this, a first MMA is imaged in the focal plane and used as a black and white (or even greyscale) mask. With a fully illuminated objective, this image would normally be formed from the complete light cone. By imaging the second MMA onto the backfocal plane of the objective only a portion of the light cone is used to form the image. This enables avoiding the unwanted illumination of out of focus objects. The MMAs in our setup consist of an array of 256×256 micromirrors, that can each be individually and continuously tilted up to 450nm, allowing the creation of greyscale images in real time in the illumination pattern. The mirrors themselves can be tilted for times as short as 10μs up to several seconds. This gives unprecedented control over the illumination times and intensities in the sample. Furthermore, our enhanced coating technology yields a high reflectivity over a broad optical spectrum (240- 1000nm).
Overall, the setup allows targetted illumination of subcellular regions enabling the precise, localized activation of optogenetic probes or the activation and deactivation of signaling cascades using photo-activated ion-channels.