“Laser Scanners” by William Benner

William Benner is a scanner enthusiast and the president of the company Pangolin. His company sells equipment mostly for laser shows but also for other applications. Some years ago, he wrote a book on “Laser Scanners”, which is available through this website but can also be received as pdf via request (or directly as PDF).

It’s an interesting read also for microscope builders. The book is not too technical but offers inspiration or ideas also for more experienced scan system designers.

For example, the book covers the basics of different scan systems, ranging from galvo scanners, resonant scanners, acousto-optic scanners, MEMS scanners, and others. However, the main focus is on galvo scanners, how they are built, controlled, and what can be done with them.

One chapter that I found the most interesting (naturally, because of my own work on z-scanning), is chapter 14, “Scanning in the third (focus) dimension”. The retroreflector approach is really cool!

The beam path designs shown in chapter 15, “Scanner blanking”, are quite inspiring, not only for blanking a beam but also for other applications. For example, one scan beam path designs from this book had been re-invented as the so-called scandreas for light sheet microscopy.

Chapter 16 suggests wide-angle scan lenses, which made me think about the potential use of such a concept for microscopy, maybe together with scan devices that scan very fast but only at a tiny optical angle. It would be interesting to simulate and optimize such a beam path (and then probably understand all the reasons why it would not work for microscopy).

Anyway, check out the book. It’s a colorful mix of technical manual, advertisement for his own company and some pieces of entrepreneurial advice. There are some explanations that could be improved (for example the chapter on scan lenses), but that’s okay. The book is an easy to read, avoids jargon and describes some interesting ideas that I for example was not aware of before – useful!

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