Optical Coherence Tomography

A main thrust of the research is in the area of Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT). OCT creates in-vivo cross-sectional images approaching the cellular level in a non-invasive or minimally invasive way. OCT can potentially provide “optical biopsies” for real time in-vivo diagnosis, and since tissue does not need to be excised, allows functional biopsies of living tissue. We have pioneered Polarization Sensitive OCT (PS-OCT) and we have spearheaded the development of Spectral Domain OCT technologies (SD/FD-OCT and OFDI) that is a hundred to a thousand times more sensitive than Time Domain OCT. The increase of light detection efficiency by 2 to 3 orders of magnitude allows in-vivo video rate imaging of biological structures with better signal to noise and enhanced depth resolution. The increase in speed represents a paradigm shift from point sampling to 3-dimensional  
screening of large tissue volumes. We were the first to demonstrate video rate OCT and ultra-high resolution imaging of the human retina. The superior phase stability of the new technology results in sensitivity enhancements to functional OCT, such as Doppler velocimetry and polarization and phase sensitivity. This allows video rate mapping of functionality such as flow velocity profiles in retinal arteries and characterization of structural properties such as retinal nerve fiber layer birefringence. We are developing comprehensive 3-D retinal mapping of structure, flow velocity and retinal nerve fiber layer birefringence for a better understanding of a variety of diseases in ophthalmology, in particular glaucoma. In addition, the current research projects include human studies in the area of pulmonology and neuroscience.

A second and rapidly expanding research area is optical coherence phase contrast microscopy. Phase contrast techniques give motion resolution on the order of 1-2 nm, permitting non-contact optical detection of action potentials in nerve tissue. Combined with the depth discrimination of OCT, this provides the ability to isolate phase changes to within the coherence length of the light source, i.e., 2-3 micron. The combination of structural and phase sensitive microscopy with sub-wavelength resolution allows 3-D phase contrast imaging of cell dynamics.

Research projects include: