Engineers Create New Ultra-Miniaturized Microendoscope

Monday, December 9, 2019 - 10:26

Researchers from Johns Hopkins University have created a new lensless endoscope which is able to capture high-quality images of live neuron activity.

According to the university’s official website, researchers released their findings in Science Advances and Mark Foster, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at Johns Hopkins University and the study's corresponding author, stated that "usually, you have to sacrifice either size or image quality. We've been able to achieve both with our microendoscope."

In their new study, Foster and colleagues created a lens-free, ultra-miniaturized microendoscope that, compared to a conventional lens-based microendoscope, increases the amount researchers can see and improves image quality. To test their device, they examined beads in different patterns on a slide.

"For thousands of years, the goal has been to make an image as clear as possible," Foster says. "Now, thanks to computational reconstruction, we can purposefully capture something that looks awful and counterintuitively end up with a clearer final image."

Additionally, Foster's team's microendoscope doesn't require movement to focus on objects at different depths; they use computational refocusing to determine where the light originated from in three dimensions. This allows their endoscope to be much smaller than traditional versions.

Looking forward, the research team will test their microendoscope with fluorescent labeling procedures, in which active brain neurons are tagged and illuminated, to determine the endoscope's accuracy in imaging neural activity.

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