It is undoubted that at the present time the most widespread used device in modern spectroscopy is fiber probes. It turns out that their flexibility and user-friendliness made fiber optic probes the perfect solution for monitoring real-time kinetic reactions, analyzing different samples, sampling in-vivo difficult.
Initially, the most common fiber probe types included reflectance probes with a bifurcated fiber where the bundled or distal end is placed in a metal sheath, dark field reflectance probes that illuminate the sample with an annulus of seven fibers, transflectance dip probes that can be used for liquid measurement, and Raman probes that allow to measure the inelastic scattering of light off of a sample.
This month the researchers from Germany could observe at high resolution the neuronal structures inside deep brain areas of living mice with the help of a multimode optical fiber that is thin as a human hair. Used holographic methods have allowed to create a fluorescence imaging system compact enough to be placed on a fiber tip. The fiber probes are extremely narrow and minimally invasive, that is why it is possible to get a smaller footprint and higher resolution compared to endoscopes based on graded-index lenses or fiber bundles.
According to the scientists the device provides proper spatial and temporal resolution for fluorescent imaging of subcellular structures in living tissues. Thus, the optic probes allow making images of brain cells and neuronal processes in the visual cortex and hippocampus of living mice. It was difficult to do before with minimal damage for the tissue that surrounds the fiber penetration area. Now the imaging by the fiber probe can last for periods of several hours.
The research plays a crucial role for the medicine because the detailed observations of the deep brain areas help to analyze sensory perception and severe neuronal diseases. Previous investigation methods are very invasive compared to current fiber probes. Also traditional endoscopes are extremely large for sensitive brain areas penetration because they are composed of hundreds of optical fibers, and neuronal structures are very small to be imaged without this technology. Now the reveal of the neuronal circuits process is possible even while the animal’s activity.
The advantages of the fiber optic probe use include better understanding of the deeply hidden brain areas functions, for example, the memory formation, related dysfunctions, including Alzheimer’s disease.The new fiber probe could change the numerous techniques of modern microscopy, for example, multiphoton, superresolution, and light-sheet approaches. The new fiber types that are optimized for the holographic endoscopy purposes will appear in the near future.
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