Collin Arocho
1 December 2020

Delft University of Technology has announced a new development in deep-tissue optical imaging. Researchers there have created a new method that allows users to penetrate and visualize up to four times deeper than traditional methods, which are limited to only about one millimeter in depth. The new imaging method combines several existing techniques, including optical coherence tomography (OCT), which is similar to acoustic ultrasound but uses light instead of sound waves and has a higher resolution.

Differing from OCT, researchers at TU Delft don’t make images with reflected light. Rather, they send the light right through the tissue. On the other side, a sensor captures it again and researchers can see which light arrives and when. In order to then make a cross-section, a so-called “tomogram,” of the object, the researchers use technologies known from computer tomography, of which the best-known example is the CT scan.

“We could study the effects of medicines or, conversely, potentially toxic substances on tissue,” says TU Delft researcher Jeroen Kalkman. Credit: Delft University of Technology

In the future, the new Delft technique is expected to have several practical applications in the medical world, as it enables the generation of extremely valuable information about certain diseases. “With our method, we would be able to follow the development of such a disease very precisely over time,” says TU Delft researcher Jeroen Kalkman. “That way, we could study the effects of medicines or, conversely, potentially toxic substances on tissue. Doing so could provide us with useful insights that can ultimately lead to better treatments or better protection.”