Researchers report innovative optical tissue imaging method

October 15, 2018, University of St Andrews
Laser light patterns are sequentially focused in time onto a region of interest inside biological tissue. Fluorescence emitted by the sample under each illumination pattern is collected with a single-pixel detector after passing back through the tissue. By adding up the projected patterns weighted by the intensities recorded, an image of the sample can be reconstructed. Credit: University of St Andrews

A UK-wide research team, led by the University of St Andrews, has developed an innovative new way to optically image through tissue, which could allow for a more detailed understanding and diagnosis of the early stages of various diseases, including cancer.

The study, in collaboration with the University of Southampton and the Cancer Research UK Edinburgh Centre at the University of Edinburgh, published in Science Advances (Friday 12 October), paves the way to move from superficial to functional imaging, transforming studies in neuroscience.

The ability to image objects has had a profound impact across all of the sciences. However, as we know from everyday experience, does not penetrate through skin or a piece of Sellotape very well. The light scatters and is scrambled. This in turn makes it very hard to create from deep within a sample.

The innovative new method developed by the team of researchers focused short pulses of patterned light in time through the tissue. By focusing in time, known as temporal focusing, the patterns retain their form despite the scattering from the tissue. However, this is not imaging. To image, the team collected just a fraction of the return light (fluorescence) from the sample onto a single-point detector. This means they did not have to know where that light came from within the sample. By simply appropriately summing the patterns projected on the sample weighted by the intensities recorded for the return light, the team were able to form a faithful image. Crucially this image was created without ever having any specific knowledge of the tissue itself.

The ability to see deeper into with light is currently one of the hottest topics in imaging. The potential applications of the research findings could have wide-ranging implications to aid biomedical analysis and early detection of diseases, including furthering our understanding of neuroscience and .

Researcher Adrià Escobet-Montalbán, Marie Curie Fellow from the University of St Andrews School of Physics and Astronomy, said: "Our approach shows an innovative way to tackle a longstanding problem in imaging. It is exciting to see the response we have got from the international community as many people thought what we have done is impossible with light."

Professor Kishan Dholakia, from the University of St Andrews School of Physics and Astronomy added: "This is a timely breakthrough and I hope it leads to new ways of thinking about imaging at depth."

The paper "Wide-field multiphoton imaging through scattering media without correction" is published in Science Advances.

Explore further: New light technique could result in less intrusive, more effective diagnosis for patients

More information: Adrià Escobet-Montalbán et al. Wide-field multiphoton imaging through scattering media without correction, Science Advances (2018). DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aau1338

Related Stories

Imaging turns a corner

April 24, 2014

(Phys.org) —Scientists have developed a new microscope which enables a dramatically improved view of biological cells.

Recommended for you

Bursting bubbles launch bacteria from water to air

November 15, 2018

Wherever there's water, there's bound to be bubbles floating at the surface. From standing puddles, lakes, and streams, to swimming pools, hot tubs, public fountains, and toilets, bubbles are ubiquitous, indoors and out.

Terahertz laser pulses amplify optical phonons in solids

November 15, 2018

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg/Germany presents evidence of the amplification of optical phonons ...

Designer emulsions

November 15, 2018

ETH material researchers are developing a method with which they can coat droplets with controlled interfacial composition and coverage on demand in an emulsion in order to stabilise them. In doing so they are fulfilling ...

Quantum science turns social

November 15, 2018

Researchers in a lab at Aarhus University have developed a versatile remote gaming interface that allowed external experts as well as hundreds of citizen scientists all over the world to optimize a quantum gas experiment ...

0 comments

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.