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1. WO2001037025 - CONFOCAL IMAGING

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Claims

1. A confocal imaging system for imaging a surface comprising;

an array sensor having rows of sensors for detecting light emitted from the surface, and

an optical system arranged to focus light from different focal planes adjacent the surface onto different sensor rows of the area array sensor.

2. A confocal imaging system according to claim 1 , wherein the optical system comprises an objective lens and a pinhole array, the objective lens being positioned to focus light emitted from the surface onto the pinhole array, and the pinhole array having rows of pinholes aligned to transmit light to associated rows of sensors, each row of pinholes being positioned at a different distance from the objective lens.

3. A confocal imaging system according to claim 2, wherein a lens is positioned behind each pinhole on the opposite side of the pinhole from the objective lens.

4. A confocal imaging system according to claim 2 or claim 3, wherein the rows of pinholes are arranged side by side in order of increasing distance from the objective lens.

5. A confocal imaging system according to any one of claims 2 to 4, wherein the optical system comprises a imaging lens positioned between the pinhole array and the sensor for focussing light transmitted through the pinholes onto the sensors

6. A confocal imaging system according to claims 2 to 5, wherein the array sensor is substantially perpendicular to the optical axis of the objective lens.

7. A confocal imaging system according any one of claims 1 to 3, wherein the optical system comprises a light source arranged to focus light on said different focal planes.

8. A method of imaging a surface using the confocal imaging system according to any of claims 1 to 7, comprising measuring the intensity of light received from a point on the surface using a sensor in a first row which has light focussed from a first focal plane near that point, moving the confocal imaging system laterally over the sur ace, and measuring the intensity of light received from the point on the surface using a sensor in a second row which has light focussed from a second focal plane near that point.