Usually, the application of fiber bundles in microendoscopy is limited to the process of 2D imaging. The main reason is the problem of tunable focusing on fiber-optics because of size restrictions. Nevertheless, now it is possible to pass the limit, thus, a traditional fiber bundle allows extracting the information from the optical data, opening up new possibilities to the minimally invasive process of bioimaging.
The principle of optical bundles operation is based on the ability of optical fibers to naturally capture images from several perspectives, offering depth perception at the microscale. Herewith, today it is possible to process the obtained data from the microscopic images of fiber bundles and join all the viewpoints to provide a depth-rendered visualization of the tissue under the examination, to be precise, it comes to an image in three dimensions.
It should be noted that the research fully depends on the mode structure of the light within the core of fiber optic bundles, and the information data that can be extracted by it. The potential for decoding 3D data information using single-core multi-mode fiber-optics is known for a long time, however, the problem of high sensitivity to optical fiber bending creates difficulties for their use in bioimaging process.
Nevertheless, it turns out that the intracore intensity patterns in the fiber optic bundle include the light field’s angular dimension, created by angle-dependent coupling effects when the returning light passes the optical fiber. Generally, such patterns have been disregard although they play a crucial role in the angular structure of the light field.
Moreover, they can be useful for special data analysis to demonstrate depth information about the imaged object. The fact is the angular distribution of light also depends on the way how the fiber bundles transmit the light, and they say that the optical fibers have a certain “memory” concerning the sent light.
The fiber optic technology is tested during the imaging process of a five-millimeter-thick slice of a mouse brain to create 3D images of two-micron fluorescent beads. Therefore, the researchers successfully obtain stereo images with a precision better than ten microns, on samples up to 80 microns away from the fiber optic bundle.
Finally, this approach is highly promising because it is one more way to record accurately depth imaging from biological samples in a single shot. Herein, at the present time, the optical fiber device is the thinnest one for light field imaging, and the presented technology could become a potentially valuable way for 3D optical biopsies performed by using optical fiber bundles or used for in vivo 3D fluorescence microscopy in biological research.
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