Improved Imaging System for Medicine, Research, and Industry

Achievement date: 
2015
Outcome/accomplishment: 

Researchers affiliated with the NSF-funded Engineering Research Center (ERC) on Mid-Infrared Technologies for Health and the Environment (MIRTHE), which is headquartered at Princeton University, have demonstrated progress in developing a system to produce improved images of materials samples. These types of images are used extensively in medicine, research, and industry. 

Impact/benefits: 

Current imaging systems use two kinds of light reflected at different depths in a sample to obtain high-resolution, 3-D images. The ERC researchers are pursuing development of a system using a third kind of light, which would decrease scattering and give stronger reflections of images from samples of materials that have matching light-absorption properties.

Explanation/Background: 

Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) systems now rely on use of visible and near-infrared (near-IR) light; mid-IR light would produce better images, but no mid-IR systems are commercially available. The researchers’ focus on development of a system employing mid-IR light has resulted in the design, assembly, and test of a first experimental system that can sense spatial information (sample depth) as well as absorption spectra.

Development emphasis is on a new high-power (up to 100 mW), low-coherence (less than 100 μm), super-luminescent quantum-cascade emitter to achieve both long depth range and high depth resolution. This emitter is a key element of the new mid-IR OCT system demonstration (see figure).