Scientists and MDs have a wide range of technologies available for the imaging of live tissue, but each of these comes with its own limitations – be it poor contrast, low resolution, long response times or the viewing process damaging the tissue being observed.
A team of Harvard researchers has developed a new type of optical biomedical imaging that promises to overcome these obstacles and is so fast and high-resolution that it can capture live video of cells and molecules.
The new technology is based on stimulated Raman scattering (SRS), a non-intrusive optical technique that detects the vibrations in the chemical bonds between atoms through absorption and subsequent emission of photons. By intelligently rearranging the photodetectors so they would capture more photons, the team used SRS microscopy to obtain streaming footage of blood cells squeezing through capillaries, proteins and lipids, and to track the migration of medications in skin.
“When we started this project 11 years ago, we never imagined we’d have an amazing result like this,” commented X. Sunney Xie, who was part of the research team. “We’re already looking forward with great anticipation to applications of SRS microscopy in hospitals. It’s now clear that [it] will play an important role in the future of biological imaging and medical diagnostics.”