Deep biological tissue imaging has long been problematic. Complex media such as biological tissue scatters the light, bouncing inside until it emerges at various angles. Subsequently, it distorts the focus of optical microscopes, reducing both resolution and imaging depth. Longer wavelength light can help to avoid scattering, but it also reduces imaging resolution.
Instead of attempting to avoid scattering, researchers have devised a tissue imaging method for exploiting the effect. The new technique allows them to use light scattering to improve imaging resolution by up to ten times that of existing systems.
The diffraction barrier limits the conventional microscopes, which prevents them from focusing beyond a specific resolution. The new tissue imaging technique allows imaging at “optical super-resolution” or beyond the diffraction limit.
For example, the technique could improve biomedical tissue imaging by allowing more precise targeting of cancer cells within a tissue. It could also work with optogenetic techniques to stimulate specific brain cells.
The new tissue imaging technique has the potential to be used in quantum computing. The researchers created quantum reference beacons to improve resolution (QRBs). Nitrogen-vacancy (N-V) centers within diamonds create these QRBs. These tiny molecular defects within diamond crystal lattices are naturally fluorescent, which means they emit light when excited by a laser beam.