DEC 03, 2020 10:57 AM PST

This microscope can see through an intact skull

New research from a team at the Center for Molecular Spectroscopy and Dynamics within the Institute of Basic Science (IBS) in Seoul, South Korea reports on the development of an optical microscope that can provide more accurate deep-tissue optical imagining than current options. The microscope is capable of imaging through bone, meaning it does not require invasive procedures.

The design is called a reflection matrix microscope. Developed by researchers led by Professor CHOI Wonshik, the microscope utilizes hardware and computational adaptive optics (AO). It is capable of correcting the severe optical aberrations that occur when the ratio between multiply scattered and ballistic photons increases.

Research professor YOON Seokchan and graduate student LEE Hojun, who conducted the study, said, "By correcting the wavefront distortion, we can focus light energy on the desired location inside the living tissue. Our microscope allows us to investigate fine internal structures deep within living tissues that cannot be resolved by any other means. This will greatly aid us in early disease diagnosis and expedite neuroscience research."

The microscope can be used as an alternative to other imaging techniques that obscure the image as a result of contrast reduction and image blur during the image reconstruction process. The researchers say it will be useful in visualizing the neural networks of brain tissues under the skulls of mice, which are often used in neuroscience research. The microscope allows for imaging through the skull and does not require removing or thinning the skull, as do other techniques.

The researchers consider the device a breakthrough because it also does not require fluorescent labeling, as most other AO microscopes do. Furthermore, it can be paired with the commonly-used two-photon microscope.

Photo: Pixabay

The team says they will continue their research goals, aiming to design a label-free reflective matrix microscope that could be used for high imaging depth in clinics. "Reflection matrix microscope is the next-generation technology that goes beyond the limitations of conventional optical microscopes. This will allow us to widen our understanding of the light propagation through scattering media and expand the scope of applications that an optical microscope can explore," said CHOI Wonshik.

Sources: Nature Communications, Eureka Alert

About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
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