Two years ago, a discussion about biophotonics between Joseph Kahn, PhD, a Stanford professor of electrical engineering, and fellow engineer Olav Solgaard, PhD, raised the question of whether it was possible to send light through a hair-thin fiber, form a bright spot inside the human body, and record images of living tissue. The challenge surrounding the development of such a device sparked both their interest, and they began working to turn the conceptual idea into reality.
A Stanford Report article published today offers a closer look at the engineers' effort to develop a prototype of the single-fiber endoscope that boosts a resolution that is four times better than existing instruments:
The so-called micro-endoscope is a significant step forward in high-resolution, minimally invasive bio-imaging, with potential applications in research and clinical practice. Micro-endoscopy could enable new methods in diverse fields ranging from study of the brain to early cancer detection.
Their prototype can resolve objects about 2.5 microns in size, and a resolution of 0.3 microns is easily within reach. A micron is one thousandth of a millimeter. By comparison, today's high-resolution endoscopes can resolve objects only to about 10 microns. The naked eye can see objects down to about 125 microns.
Kahn, Solgaard and colleagues recently published a paper (.pdf) on the prototype in the journal Optics Express.
Photo by John Todd