3D BIOMEDICAL IMAGING: Advanced lenses facilitate 3D imaging

"The fastest focusing lens in the world" can change focal length in sub-microseconds—and can also do beam modulation, which makes it versatile for applications including spectroscopy and imaging. Offered by TAG Optics (Princeton, NJ), a company launched to commercialize it, the lens promises to facilitate two-photon microscopy in three dimensions: In non-synchronous mode, the lens generates a z-stack nearly instantaneously. "Instead of changing the focus stage, we would turn the lens on and get the z-stack right away, so it takes away the need to do post-image recreation," explains CEO Christian Theriault. The company is in the process of building a new driving kit "that will give us much more power, that would technically allow us at 10x do a 1 cm focus range. So you'd have a fixed stage, your sample, and electronically focus completely." The technology works by sending sound waves into a liquid.

An image, captured by the Mesolens, of a human flea. (Image courtesy of the Medical Research Council)

Another lens, this one developed by scientists at the University of Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences (Glasgow, Scotland), is a confocal lens able to display 3D images in seconds rather than hours. The researchers say their "Mesolens" can be trained simultaneously on or inside an individual cell and the full organism, with strong resolution, and will have the capacity to deliver 3D images that go far beyond the limitations of 2D representations, says Dr. Brad Amos, a visiting scientist at the Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences, who is also Emeritus Research Group Leader in the Medical Research Council (MRC) Laboratory of Molecular Biology (Cambridge, England) and a Fellow of the Royal Society in London.

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