Processing of Optical Coherence Tomography Signals - for both Medical and Non-Medical Applications (22044)

Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) is the optical analog of ultrasound tomography.

In OCT, an optical wave is launched into a tissue sample where it is reflected off of interfaces and where optical energy returns to a detector. These interfaces are located where the speed of light, i.e. the index of refraction, changes. One can map the intensity of the reflected light as a function of spatial dimension within the tissue to form an image.

The advantage of OCT over ultrasound is that, while ultrasound scans have spatial resolutions on the order of 100 µm, OCT scans have spatial resolutions on the order of 1 µm. In other words, OCT provides a higher resolution image than that provided by ultrasound.

Much of the work to date in OCT has centered on improvements in optical techniques. Relatively little has been done to improve processing speed of the resultant electrical signal. The invention, which centers on the latter, yields higher resolution images from signals taken over a much shorter time period than current methods. As a result:

It Enables New Applications: The invention opens up entirely new applications for which greater spatial and temporal resolution are absolutely required in order to capture events that change very quickly.

It Costs Much Less: The invention requires much less sophisticated instrumentation than does current technology. If a lower cost instrument can be developed, then it has a better chance of gaining acceptance among clinical and non-clinical users. The invention is based upon a new signal-processing discovery.

FIELD OF APPLICATION: As suggested so far, the applications for a technology like this are extensive. For example, one new scanning application that current methods cannot handle relates to plaque build-up in arteries. It is well known that eddy currents in fluid flow contribute to plaque build-up. Between cycles of the beating heart, these eddy currents appear and disappear over very short time intervals. Ultrasound and current OCT methods cannot detect events over such short time intervals. The invention allows high spatial and frequency (i.e. velocity) resolution for single, high speed A-scans; the two are not linked.

ADVANTAGES: The invention enables new scanning applications that existing methods cannot adequately support. The invention will allow the development of OCT products that are much less expensive than current systems because high priced optical devices are obviated by the significantly improved signal processing techniques. Applications are numerous, and can be either medical or non-medical in nature. A Patent Application has been filed.

Inventor(s): Paul Edney and Joseph Walsh, Jr.

Type of Offer: Licensing

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