Novel Imaging Technique Developed Using Adaptive Optics
17 April 1 2014
A novel imaging technology capable of fixing distortions and spreading light efficiently to provide high-resolution images has been developed by a team at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Janelia Farm Research Campus. The researchers are hopeful that the method could become "a very convenient add-on component" to conventional microscopes.
The technique employs adaptive optics used by ophthalmologists and astronomers, enabling a quick correction of the distortions that occur as biological samples twist light in ways that are hard to foretell, returning information to the microscope that scientists find difficult to understand. But with the new technology these distortions can be corrected rapidly.
The technology works in tissues that are not capable of scattering light, a phenomenon which bodes well for imaging the transparent bodies of zebrafish and roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans, which are important model organisms in biological research, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute reported. The researchers managed to demonstrate how the technology can focus on details of the zebrafish like its breaching structures and subcellular organelles of nerve cells deep in the living brain of the fish. If these structures are examined under the same microscopes without adaptive optics, they remain blurry and vague. According to Janelia group leader Eric Betzig, the results are "pretty eye-popping." The new technology brings the application of adaptive technology to another level, he said.
For the experiment, the researchers developed a guide star by using light from the microscope and then employed a technique known as two-photon excitation to illuminate a particular point. The wavefront sensor would then identify how the light had changed as it passed through the tissue to apply the necessary correction to the image.
Betzig admitted that the researchers employed techniques used by astronomers, using adaptive optics to correct the light-bending heterogeneity of biological tissues.