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Engineers design new optical microprobe to detect subsurface organ abnormalities

the other hand, wavelengths of light are much shorter than those of sound. As a result, "OCT's resolution is much greater," Izatt said.

Rather than using the white light of normal endoscopy, this version of OCT harnesses infrared light from a laser-diode that has had one key laser feature disabled. "Strictly speaking, it is not a laser, but it's close to being a laser," Izatt said.

While this modified "superluminescent diode" has laser-like "spatial coherence," meaning that its beam remains more focused than normal light, it does not emit light of a single color frequency like complete lasers can.

The special combination of features permits OCT investigators to use it in interferometry. Interferometry is a technique to create visual images by rapidly scanning surfaces with light of various wavelengths while interpreting the return reflections from various depths.

Using a superluminescent diode with interferometry is the "cheapest" form of OCT, Izatt said. And the similarities between this light scanning method and ultrasound delivery systems spurred a natural collaboration, added Smith, who is part of Duke's ultrasound research program.

The Optics Letters article also included results of several micromachine OCT scans of biological tissue. One examined the lining of an excised pig colon. A second scan probed the cornea and iris of an excised pig's eye. A third imaged the underside of a human fingertip.

OCT currently has U.S. Food and Drug Administration clinical approval only for scanning the eye's retina, where the procedure is widely used, Izatt said. It is also being evaluated for various possible imaging uses in the gastrointestinal tract, the lungs, the bladder, the cervix and in coronary arteries, he added.


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Contact: Monte Basgall
monte.basgall@duke.edu
919-681-8057
Duke University
16-Apr-2003


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