Researcher Develops Probe for Non-invasive Below Skin Imaging

Jannick Rolland, PhD, an optics professor at the University of Rochester in New York, has developed an optical probe equipped with a liquid lens that takes images under the skin’s surface without the use of invasive procedures. 

Rolland and her team developed the technology to classify benign vs. cancerous skin lesions without skin biopsies; however, perhaps her discovery could have application in skin imaging for personal care.

The device is comprised of a 1 ft cylindrical probe with a liquid lens instead of a standard lens that is placed in contact with the tissue. The liquid lens uses a drop of water rather than a piece of glass. As the electrical field around the water droplet changes, the droplet changes its shape, changing the focus of the lens. This allows the device to take thousands of pictures focused at different depths below the skin’s surface. Within seconds, a clear, high-resolution 3D image of below the skin surface emerges. Rolland and her team have termed this process "optical coherence microscopy." Combining these images creates a fully in-focus image of all of the tissue up to 1 mm deep in human skin.

Because the device uses near infrared light instead of ultrasounds, the images have a precise, micron-scale resolution instead of a mm-scale resolution. The process has been successfully tested in in vivo human skin.

Rolland presented her findings at the 2011 Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington, D.C., USA, on Feb. 19, 2011. Next, Rolland and her team will use the probe in a clinical research environment.

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