Mid-Infrared Imaging Made Practical for Medicine by Danish Researchers

Different wavelengths of light reveal the world in unique ways, but some are hard to see using the human eye and modern imaging technologies. Mid-infrared light, for example, can be used to look at a variety of biological processes in the body, but it is hard to track when it’s used to film at a fast frame rate. The lasers and detectors that make such imaging possible are normally expensive and the results are often lacking.

Researchers at Technical University of Denmark have now achieved an impressive feat by turning mid-infrared light into near-infrared light and then using cheap existing technologies to image the result. The technique opens a way for scientists to study a host of dynamic processes, but also for clinicians to analyze tissues for disease in new ways.

The team used nonlinear frequency conversion, a method of boosting the energy of photons, to change the wavelength of incoming light. This was performed so that most of the information captured in the mid-infrared was transferred to the near-infrared, retaining spatial data, and without adding much noise. As Peter Tidemand-Lichtenberg, one of the researchers, explains in the announcement, “…we used an approach that translates information from the mid-infrared region, where the chemical signatures are most distinct, to the near-infrared, where today’s camera technology is most mature and sensitive.”

To evaluate the potential of the new imaging approach for clinical applications, the researchers used it to analyze samples of cancerous and healthy esophageal tissue. Both the morphology and spectral classification were consistent with conventional histopathology imaging.

Study in journal Optica: Video-rate, mid-infrared hyperspectral upconversion imaging

Via: The Optical Society