Novel computed imaging technique uses blurry images to enhance view

Jan 21, 2007

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have developed a novel computational image-forming technique for optical microscopy that can produce crisp, three-dimensional images from blurry, out-of-focus data.

Called Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Microscopy, ISAM can do for optical microscopy what magnetic resonance imaging did for nuclear magnetic resonance, and what computed tomography did for X-ray imaging, the scientists say.

"ISAM can perform high-speed, micron-scale, cross-sectional imaging without the need for time-consuming processing, sectioning and staining of resected tissue," said Stephen Boppart, a professor of electrical and computer engineering, of bioengineering, and of medicine at the U. of I., and corresponding author of a paper accepted for publication in the journal Nature Physics, and posted on its Web site.

Developed by postdoctoral research associate and lead author Tyler Ralston, research scientist Daniel Marks, electrical and computer engineering professor P. Scott Carney, and Boppart, the imaging technique utilizes a broad-spectrum light source and a spectral interferometer to obtain high-resolution, reconstructed images from the optical signals based on an understanding of the physics of light-scattering within the sample.

"ISAM has the potential to broadly impact real-time, three-dimensional microscopy and analysis in the fields of cell and tumor biology, as well as in clinical diagnosis where imaging is preferable to biopsy," said Boppart, who is also a physician and founding director of the Mills Breast Cancer Institute at Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana, Ill.

While other methods of three-dimensional optical microscopy require the instrument's focal plane to be scanned through the region of interest, ISAM works by utilizing light from the out-of-focus image planes, Ralston said. "Although most of the image planes are blurry, ISAM descrambles the light to produce a fully focused, three-dimensional image."

ISAM effectively extends the region of the image that is in focus, using information that was discarded in the past.

"We have demonstrated that the discarded information can be computationally reconstructed to quickly create the desired image," Marks said. "We are now applying the technique to various microscopy methods used in biological imaging."

In their paper, the researchers demonstrate the usefulness of computed image reconstruction on both phantom tissue and on excised human breast-tumor tissue.

"ISAM can assist doctors by providing faster diagnostic information, and by facilitating the further development of image-guided surgery," Boppart said. "Using ISAM, it may be possible to perform micron-scale imaging over large volumes of tissue rather than resecting large volumes of tissue."

The versatile imaging technique can be applied to existing hardware with only minor modifications.

Source: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Explore further: Breakthrough in OLED technology

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Breakthrough in OLED technology

8 hours ago

Organic light emitting diodes (OLEDs), which are made from carbon-containing materials, have the potential to revolutionize future display technologies, making low-power displays so thin they'll wrap or fold ...

Throwing light on a mysterious human 'superpower'

11 hours ago

Most people, at some point in their lives, have dreamt of being able to fly like Superman or develop superhuman strength like the Hulk. But very few know that we human beings have a "superpower" of our own, ...

New filter could advance terahertz data transmission

Feb 27, 2015

University of Utah engineers have discovered a new approach for designing filters capable of separating different frequencies in the terahertz spectrum, the next generation of communications bandwidth that ...

The super-resolution revolution

Feb 27, 2015

Cambridge scientists are part of a resolution revolution. Building powerful instruments that shatter the physical limits of optical microscopy, they are beginning to watch molecular processes as they happen, ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.