Spectrally-encoded endoscopy (SEE) is an ultraminiature endoscopy technology that acquires high-definition images of internal organs through a sub-mm endoscopic probe. In SEE, a grating at the tip of the imaging optics diffracts the broadband light into multiple beams, where each beam with a distinctive wavelength is illuminated on a unique transverse location of the tissue. By encoding one transverse coordinate with the wavelength, SEE can image a line of the tissue at a time without using any beam scanning devices. This feature of the SEE technology allows the SEE probe to be miniaturized to sub-mm dimensions. While previous studies have shown that SEE has the potential to be utilized for various clinical imaging applications, the translation of SEE for medicine has been hampered by challenges in fabricating the miniature grating inherent to SEE probes. This paper describes a new fabrication method for SEE probes. The new method uses a soft lithographic approach to pattern a high-aspect-ratio grating at the tip of the miniature imaging optics. Using this technique, we have constructed a 500 μm-diameter SEE probe. The miniature grating at the tip of the probe had a measured diffraction efficiency of 75%. The new SEE probe was used to image a human finger and formalin fixed mouse embryos, demonstrating the capability of this device to visualize key anatomic features of tissues with high image contrast. In addition to providing high quality imaging SEE optics, the soft lithography method allows cost-effective and reliable fabrication of these miniature endoscopes, which will facilitate the clinical translation of SEE technology.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biomedical Engineering