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Biomedical Imaging at One-Thousandth the Cost

By MIT News

November 24, 2015

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A biomedical imaging system developed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers could ultimately replace a $100,000 microscope with components that cost only hundreds of dollars. The system employs fluorescence lifetime imaging, a method with applications in DNA sequencing and cancer diagnosis, among other things.

Fluorescence lifetime imaging relies on the tendency of fluorophores to absorb light and then re-emit it a short time later. For a given fluorophore, interactions with other chemicals will accelerate the interval between the absorption and emission of light in a predictable way. Quantifying that interval in a biological sample treated with a fluorescent dye can reveal information about the sample's chemical makeup. "We show that you can use something in consumer imaging, like the Microsoft Kinect, to do bioimaging in much the same way that the microscope is doing," says MIT Media Lab graduate student Ayush Bhandari.

The Media Lab researchers subjected the light signal to the Fourier transform to extract additional information from the optical transmission. The depth sensors used in the experiments had arrays of approximately 20,000 light detectors each, and the most accurate results came when the detector was 2.5 meters away from the sample.

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