Two-photon polymerization setup enables experimental mapping and correction of spherical aberrations for improved macroscopic structure fabrication
The two-photon photopolymerization of resins by focused laser light in principle enables the fabrication of structures with details below the diffraction limit. However, the method can be highly susceptible to aberrations, which hinders the fabrication of structures that are larger than, e.g., the working distance of the microscope objective. Here, two-photon polymerization is extended to the fabrication of macroscopic structures by making use of medium numerical-aperture microscope objectives. By introducing a substrate holder movable in the axial direction it is possible to keep the focusing conditions constant and to fabricate very large structures with heights that are not limited by the working distance of the objective. Moreover, the constant focusing conditions enable us to quantify spherical aberrations by experimental mapping of the optical point-spread function, which manifests itself in the shape of singe photo-polymerized voxels. By monitoring such shapes it is possible to minimize aberrations. Effective aberration control enables us to fabricate large but detailed biomedical scaffolds with interconnected pores, e.g., in the shape of a human stirrup bone.