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Imaging moving and static objects and living tissue using principles of reflected light and light frequency modulation

24 April 2022

Screen Grabbing

Bats and submarines – both work out their surroundings from the echoes of signals fired into the dark. Here researchers grasp the similar principles to echolocation and sonar but apply them to light. LiDAR – and a similar technique called optical coherence tomography (OCT) – fires laser light at an object, spotting changes in the light’s properties to build up a 3D picture. Yet while OCT focuses on picking out microscopic detail inside living tissues, here LiDAR maps out crevices in much larger, moving, objects like a clenching hand (coloured by height). A diffraction grating scatters the laser light, making it easier to capture changes quickly as it scans over moving objects. The technique is being eyed up as candidate for improved robotic vision, but LiDAR may also complement OCT in universities and teaching hospitals, capturing pulsing tissues and organs in real time.

Written by John Ankers

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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