The presented fiber optic technology is based on the use of an optical fiber that operates as an independent pixel, thus, allowing coherent fiber optic bundles to transmit more data information than it was possible before (a 2D representation of an image). Nowadays, the spatial light field is able to encode 3D stereo data due to the incorporation of fiber bundles.
Optical fibers are considered to be highly powerful tools whose main purpose is the transmission of time-varying optical signals for telecommunications. In spite of the fact that telecommunication is the most common fiber optic application, optical fibers are not limited by only this field.
One more fiber optic application includes biomedical imaging, especially for endomicroscopy where microscale resolution plays a crucial role because it is employed to assess potentially pathological tissues in vivo without having to collect the tissue, compared to a conventional technique of biopsy.
Additionally, fiber optic technology is a perfect technique for imaging deep into the body at high resolution, where scattering makes standoff imaging impractical. The thing is that the optical fiber benefit of compact size allows inserting fiber optic probes directly into hard-to-reach areas such as the lungs or the gastrointestinal tract.
Also, it should be mentioned that thanks to such an optical fiber quality as thinness make the risk of tissue damage minimal, herewith, common wavelengths of operation in the visible and infrared are non-ionizing. Nevertheless, fiber optic technology faces one fundamental challenge during the process of imaging: the way of transmission the fiber image through an optical fiber.
Since optical fibers collect spatial information, in the case if someone tries transmitting a spatially and temporally coherent image (from a laser system) through a fiber, the output will be a speckle pattern. At the present time, it is possible to decode these speckle patterns, therefore, the original image can be recovered pre-calibration but the optical fiber is required to be static during the operation.
The possible solution is the use of optical fiber bundles. To be more precise, each fiber bundle includes thousands of tiny optical fibers every of which transmits one pixel of an image. The operation of fiber optic bundles is based on “contact mode” for imaging, where there is direct contact between the bare fiber facet and the sample. Thus, there is no need for a lens and fiber optic bundles allow keeping the sample in focus.
Fiber bundles provide several fiber optic advantages for the user. The first is the compact size of an optical fiber bundle that is about 0.5 to 1 mm in diameter. The second benefit is ease of use, herein, the ability of fiber optic bundles to refocus light field data to an extent helps to capture out-of-focus images again.
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