Interferometry - Applications - Biology and Medicine

Biology and Medicine


Figure 22. Typical optical setup of single point OCT

Figure 23. Central serous retinopathy, imaged using
optical coherence tomography
  • Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is a medical imaging technique using low-coherence interferometry to provide tomographic visualization of internal tissue microstructures. As seen in Fig. 22, the core of a typical OCT system is a Michelson interferometer. One interferometer arm is focused onto the tissue sample and scans the sample in an X-Y longitudinal raster pattern. The other interferometer arm is bounced off a reference mirror. Reflected light from the tissue sample is combined with reflected light from the reference. Because of the low coherence of the light source, interferometric signal is observed only over a limited depth of sample. X-Y scanning therefore records one thin optical slice of the sample at a time. By performing multiple scans, moving the reference mirror between each scan, an entire three-dimensional image of the tissue can be reconstructed. Recent advances have striven to combine the nanometer phase retrieval of coherent interferometry with the ranging capability of low-coherence interferometry.

Figure 24. Spyrogira cell (detached from
algal filament) under phase contrast

Figure 25. Toxoplasma gondii unsporulated
oocyst, differential interference contrast

Figure 26. High resolution phase-contrast x-ray image of
a spider
  • Phase contrast and differential interference contrast (DIC) microscopy are important tools in biology and medicine. Most animal cells and single-celled organisms have very little color, and their intracellular organelles are almost totally invisible under simple bright field illumination. These structures can be made visible by staining the specimens, but staining procedures are time-consuming and kill the cells. As seen in Figs. 24 and 25, phase contrast and DIC microscopes allow unstained, living cells to be studied. DIC also has non-biological applications, for example in the analysis of planar silicon semiconductor processing.
  • Angle-resolved low-coherence interferometry (a/LCI) uses scattered light to measure the sizes of subcellular objects, including cell nuclei. This allows interferometry depth measurements to be combined with density measurements. Various correlations have been found between the state of tissue health and the measurements of subcellular objects. For example, it has been found that as tissue changes from normal to cancerous, the average cell nuclei size increases.
  • Phase-contrast x-ray imaging (Fig. 26) refers to a variety of techniques that use phase information of a coherent x-ray beam to image soft tissues. It has become an important method for visualizing cellular and histological structures in a wide range of biological and medical studies. There are several technologies being used for x-ray phase-contrast imaging, all utilizing different principles to convert phase variations in the x-rays emerging from an object into intensity variations. These include propagation-based phase contrast, talbot interferometry, refraction-enhanced imaging, and x-ray interferometry. These methods provide higher contrast compared to normal absorption-contrast x-ray imaging, making it possible to see smaller details. A disadvantage is that these methods require more sophisticated equipment, such as synchrotron or microfocus x-ray sources, x-ray optics and high resolution x-ray detectors.

Read more about this topic:  Interferometry, Applications

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