This advanced imaging technology was recently published in Light: Science & Applications. An US patent application has been filed for the innovation. "CLAM allows 3D fluorescence imaging at high frame rate comparable to state-of-the-art technology (~10's volumes per second). More importantly, it is much more power efficient, being over 1,000 times gentler than the standard 3D microscopes widely used in scientific laboratories, which greatly reduces the damage done to living specimens during scanning," explained Dr Tsia.
The heart of CLAM is transforming a single laser beam into a high-density array of "light-sheets" with the use of a pair of parallel mirrors, to spread over a large area of the specimen as fluorescence excitation. "The image within the entire 3D volume is captured simultaneously (i.e. parallelized), without the need to scan the specimen point-by-point or line-by-line or plane-by-plane as required by other techniques.
Such 3D parallelization in CLAM leads to a very gentle and efficient 3D fluorescence imaging without sacrificing sensitivity and speed," as pointed out by Dr Yuxuan Ren, a postdoctoral researcher of the work. CLAM also outperforms the common 3D fluorescence imaging methods in reducing the effect of photo-bleaching.
To preserve the image resolution and quality in CLAM, the team turned to Code Division Multiplexing (CDM), an image encoding technique which is widely used in telecommunication for sending multiple signals simultaneously.
"This encoding technique allows us to use a 2D image sensor to capture and digitally reconstruct all image stacks in 3D simultaneously. CDM has never been used in 3D imaging before. We adopted the technology, which became a success," explained by Dr Queenie Lai, another postdoctoral researcher who developed the system.
As a proof-of-concept demonstration, the team applied CLAM to capture 3D videos of fast microparticle flow in a microfluidic chip at a volume rate of over 10 volumes per second comparable to state-of-the-art technology.
"CLAM has no fundamental limitation in imaging speed. The only constraint is from the speed of the detector employed in the system, i.e. the camera for taking snapshots. As high-speed camera technology continually advances, CLAM can always challenge its limit to attain an even higher speed in scanning," highlighted by Dr Jianglai Wu, the postdoctoral research who initiated the work.
"Since CLAM imaging is significantly gentler than all other methods, it uniquely favours long term and continuous 'surveillance' of biological specimen in their living form. This could potentially impact our fundamental understanding in many aspects of cell biology, e.g. to continuously track how an animal embryo develops into its adult form; to monitor in real-time how the cells/organisms get infected by bacteria or viruses; to see how the cancer cells are killed by drugs, and other challenging tasks unachievable by existing technologies today," Dr Tsia added.
COMPAMED-tradefair.com; Source: The University of Hong Kong