New laser technology brings perfect focus to medical advances

May 14, 2010, University of St Andrews
Optimization procedure applied on the crest logo of the University of St Andrews. a. Simulation of the resulting field distribution in an “optimal” system with no aberrations. b. The experimental reality obtained in our uncorrected system. c. Enhanced results after applying our correction method.

( -- Researchers at the University of St Andrews' School of Physics and Astronomy have developed a new laser imaging technique that overcomes visual distortions and promises advances in deep tissue imaging and even nanosurgery.

Since the advent of the laser, the last 50 years have seen amazing advances in our use and understanding of . However, light scatters quickly when passing through a turbulent object or medium - rendering any imaging or light focusing difficult. A good example is peering through mist or a typical bathroom window, which randomly scatters the incident light making it difficult to see what is on the other side.

Now Researchers at the School of Physics and Astronomy have developed a novel method to shape or “sculpt” the wavefront of light so that it reforms itself after passing through a turbulent medium.

Writing in the journal , Tomas Cizmar, Michael Mazilu and Kishan Dholakia describe how they can place a fluorescent or strongly scattering object within a turbulent media and then employ a signal from this to provide aberration correction for the object that they wish to see. The correction to the is introduced to the system via a liquid crystal micro-display display unit similar to those found in data projectors. Perfect focusing is an extremely important attribute in modern biophotonics systems and the researchers demonstrated the power of their technique in the case of optical trapping in a complicated scattering environment.

Tomas Cizmar said, “Such methods are opening up a new window in bio-photonics sciences. These techniques are extremely powerful as they eliminate the obstructing barrier of biological samples given by their random structure, responsible for light scattering and wavefront degradation.”

Co-author Michael Mazilu said, “The propagation of light still holds many surprises and new challenges in fundamental optics - who could ever have thought we could “see” through such aberrations?”

Kishan Dholakia said, “This opens up exciting new applications: one can imagine one day using optical trapping to make measurements within blood vessels. In the shorter term we should be able to apply the same physics for probing inside artificial crystals, deep tissue imaging and even nanosurgery for cells embedded well within tissue. The possibilities are immense.”

The researchers are now advancing their technique with the Schools of Biology and Medicine for interdisciplinary applications.

Explore further: Shedding new light on cancer

Related Stories

Shedding new light on cancer

January 22, 2010

( -- Researchers at the University of St Andrews have developed a powerful technique that could allow earlier cancer detection.

'Seeing' through paint

March 18, 2010

( -- When light passes through materials that we consider opaque, such as paint, biological tissue, fabric and paper, it is scattered in such a complex way that an image does not come through. "It is possible ...

Micromirrors Correct Optical Errors

July 31, 2004

Before undergoing laser eye surgery, patients are given a glimpse of their future vision through an array of movable miniature mirrors. The technique originated in astronomy, where secondary mirrors in terres-trial telescopes ...

Recommended for you

MEMS chips get metatlenses

February 20, 2018

Lens technologies have advanced across all scales, from digital cameras and high bandwidth in fiber optics to the LIGO lab instruments. Now, a new lens technology that could be produced using standard computer-chip technology ...

Reaching new heights in laser-accelerated ion energy

February 20, 2018

A laser-driven ion acceleration scheme, developed in research led at the University of Strathclyde, could lead to compact ion sources for established and innovative applications in science, medicine and industry.

Using organoids to understand how the brain wrinkles

February 20, 2018

A team of researchers working at the Weizmann Institute of Science has found that organoids can be used to better understand how the human brain wrinkles as it develops. In their paper published in the journal Nature Physics, ...


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet May 14, 2010
Could this map the neural network in a brain?
not rated yet May 14, 2010
A good example is peering through mist or a typical bathroom window...This opens up exciting new applications...
Peeping Toms everywhere, rejoice!

(Sorry, I just couldn't resist...)

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.