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Recent advances in optical imaging through deep tissue: imaging probes and techniques

  • Yoon, Seokchan
  • Cheon, Seo Young
  • Park, Sangjun
  • Lee, Donghyun
  • Lee, Yeeun
  • Han, Seokyoung
  • Kim, Moonseok
  • Koo, Heebeom
Published Article
Biomaterials Research
Springer (Biomed Central Ltd.)
Publication Date
Oct 22, 2022
DOI: 10.1186/s40824-022-00303-4
PMID: 36273205
PMCID: PMC9587606
PubMed Central
  • Review


Optical imaging has been essential for scientific observations to date, however its biomedical applications has been restricted due to its poor penetration through tissues. In living tissue, signal attenuation and limited imaging depth caused by the wave distortion occur because of scattering and absorption of light by various molecules including hemoglobin, pigments, and water. To overcome this, methodologies have been proposed in the various fields, which can be mainly categorized into two stategies: developing new imaging probes and optical techniques. For example, imaging probes with long wavelength like NIR-II region are advantageous in tissue penetration. Bioluminescence and chemiluminescence can generate light without excitation, minimizing background signals. Afterglow imaging also has high a signal-to-background ratio because excitation light is off during imaging. Methodologies of adaptive optics (AO) and studies of complex media have been established and have produced various techniques such as direct wavefront sensing to rapidly measure and correct the wave distortion and indirect wavefront sensing involving modal and zonal methods to correct complex aberrations. Matrix-based approaches have been used to correct the high-order optical modes by numerical post-processing without any hardware feedback. These newly developed imaging probes and optical techniques enable successful optical imaging through deep tissue. In this review, we discuss recent advances for multi-scale optical imaging within deep tissue, which can provide reseachers multi-disciplinary understanding and broad perspectives in diverse fields including biophotonics for the purpose of translational medicine and convergence science. Graphical Abstract Methodologies for multi-scale optical imaging within deep tissues are discussed in diverse fields including biophotonics for the purpose of translational medicine and convergence science. Recent imaging probes have tried deep tissue imaging by NIR-II imaging, bioluminescence, chemiluminescence, and afterglow imaging. Optical techniques including direct/indirect and coherence-gated wavefront sensing also can increase imaging depth.

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