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Life Sciences/Medicine

Modern imaging systems help scientists unveil the last secrets of the human body. Their understanding of cellular and molecular processes provides doctors and medical engineers with valuable insights for the development of new diagnostic and therapeutic procedures – many of them using the advantages of laser technology.

Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT)

In the life sciences and medicine, interferometers are used for the high-resolution examination of tissue structures.

Optical Coherence Tomography

Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is a high-resolution method for the non-invasive examination of tissue or the structural analysis of inorganic materials. A Michelson interferometer is used to determine the backscattering behavior of the sample. From the measured values, a two or three-dimensional representation of the internal microstructure with an optical resolution between 1 μm and 15 μm can then be obtained.

There are two different methods:

  • TD-OCT – Time domain measurement: With a broadband light source, an interference pattern is created when the optical path difference in the sample and reference arm is within the coherence length of the light source. With optical delay lines, the path length in the reference arm is repeatedly changed and the backscattering signal is continuously measured. Scanning in the x and y direction results in a three-dimensional depth profile.
  • FD-OCT – Frequency domain measurement: With this simple and fast method, the depth profile of the sample is calculated from the backscattering signal and the spectral information using the Fourier transformation. Either a narrow-band tunable laser source (laser-based FD-OCT) or a combination of a broadband light source and a very fast spectrometer (spectrometer-based FD-OCT) is used.

In OCT, it is often desirable to focus on different planes. In ophthalmology, for example, both the depth profile of the retina and the structure of the cornea are determined. Motorized optical delay lines quickly adjust the OCT systems to different depth planes.

IR Detectors

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