New ultra-miniaturized microendoscope produces higher-quality images

Dec. 9, 2019

Johns Hopkins University engineers have created a new lens-free, ultra-miniaturized endoscope—the width of only a few human hairs—that is capable of producing high-quality images. Their findings were published today in Science Advances.

"Usually, you have to sacrifice either size or image quality. We've been able to achieve both with our microendoscope," says Mark Foster, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at Johns Hopkins University and the study's corresponding author.

Microendoscopes are designed to examine neurons as they fire in the brains of animal test subjects, and accordingly must be minuscule in scale yet powerful enough to produce a clear image. Most standard microendoscopes are about half a millimeter to a few millimeters in diameter and require larger, more invasive lenses to achieve high-quality imaging. While lensless microendoscopes exist, the optical fiber that scans an area of the brain pixel by pixel frequently bends and loses imaging ability when moved.

In their new study, Foster and colleagues created a lens-free, ultra-miniaturized microendoscope that, compared to a conventional lens-based microendoscope, increases the amount researchers can see and improves image quality. To test their device, they examined beads in different patterns on a slide.

Johns Hopkins University has the announcement.