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Development at Ben-Gurion University: a laser system for seeing inside the tissues

Yuval Dror, Haaretz, voila!

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Scientists in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Ben-Gurion University have developed a system that allows seeing into the tissues of the human body, based on laser rays and not on X-rays. According to them, the device is simple and cheap and may improve the ability to perform medical procedures in real time. The system was developed by Prof. Yossi Rosen and a member of his research team, PhD student David Abouxis. According to Rosen, the ability and technique of seeing into the tissues of the human body has existed for more than 100 years, but many of the existing technologies have many shortcomings.
Thus, for example, excessive exposure to X-rays may be carcinogenic, and ultrasound does not detect all existing objects. According to him, a system that uses a laser beam may provide an answer to these shortcomings.

Rosen developed a fairly simple system, which includes an array of 132 tiny lenses, each half a mm wide, as well as a large lens, a laser beam, a video camera and a computer. To prove its effectiveness, he performed an experiment: he placed a small chicken bone between two pieces of chicken breast that resembled human tissues and illuminated them with a red laser light beam. "The idea we came up with is to transmit the laser light coming out of the chicken's organs through a dense array of tiny lenses. Behind the array of lenses, a normal lens collects the light into a digital camera connected to a computer. The result is similar to the process that occurs in the retina of the fly's eye. The camera receives a collection of images equal to the number of tiny lenses in the array."

Rosen added that while an X-ray image provides sharper and clearer images than the images obtained with the device he developed, it is not possible to work with an X-ray in real time. "A dentist takes one picture and that's it. Using the device we developed, it is possible to work in real time, without harming the patient. True, the image will be of lower quality, but it will allow the doctor to follow his steps." However, Rosen emphasized that despite the success of the experiments conducted so far, several steps must still be taken before the device can be put to practical use in a medical clinic.

The findings of the experiment and development will be published in early 2004 in the American monthly Optics Letters, which specializes in the field of electro-optics
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