New air-filled fiber bundle could make endoscopes smaller | 10/24/2018 | Staff
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Researchers have fabricated a new kind of air-filled optical fiber bundle that could greatly improve endoscopes used for medical procedures like minimally invasive surgeries or bronchoscopies. The new technology might also lead to endoscopes that produce images using infrared wavelengths, which would allow diagnostic procedures that are not possible with endoscopes today.

Endoscopes use bundles of optical fibers to transmit images from inside the body. Light falling on one end of the fiber bundle travels through each fiber to the far end, allowing a picture to be carried in the form of thousands of spots that are much like the pixels that make up a digital picture.

Fibers - Inner - Core - Outer - Properties

Optical fibers consist of an inner core and an outer cladding with different optical properties, which traps the light inside and allows it to travel down the fiber. Rather than using cores and claddings made of two types of glass like most fiber bundles, the new bundles use an array of glass cores surrounded by hollow glass capillaries filled with air that act as the cladding.

In The Optical Society (OSA) journal Optics Letters, researchers show that their new fiber bundles, which they call air-clad imaging fibers, maintain the resolution of the best commercial imaging fibers at double the wavelength range that the commercial fibers can be used. The new fiber could be used to create endoscopes that are smaller or have higher resolutions than those available today.

Resolution - Endoscopic - Procedures - Jobs - Brain

"Higher resolution is always helpful to clinicians carrying out endoscopic procedures, but the most sensitive jobs, such as those in the brain, usually require the thinnest instruments," said the paper's first author, Harry Wood of the University of Bath. "These instruments are usually so narrow that the imaging fiber contains too few cores to make a clear image. Our air-clad bundles allow more fibers to be packed into a...
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