Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is an emerging imaging technology which can generate high resolution, cross-sectional images of materials and biological tissues. OCT is analogous to ultrasound imaging, except that it measures the echo time delay of backscattered or backreflected light. In biomedical applications, OCT functions as a type of "optical biopsy" enabling visualization of tissue pathology with resolutions approaching that of conventional biopsy and histology. However OCT has the advantage that imaging is performed in situ and in real time, without the need to remove and process a specimen. OCT uses many technologies from photonics and fiber optics, including femtosecond lasers, high speed CCDs and high speed frequency swept lasers. Recently there have been dramatic advances in OCT which enable ultrahigh resolution imaging on the micron scale using broadband femtosecond lasers. New detection techniques have been developed which measure echo time delays of light in the Fourier domain, enabling 10 to 100 times increases in imaging sensitivity or speed. These advances enable three dimensional imaging and visualization similar to that in MR imaging. OCT is rapidly becoming a standard clinical diagnostic in ophthalmology, where it enables imaging and measurement of retinal pathology with unprecedented resolutions. OCT is also being developed for many other applications ranging from cancer detection in endoscopy, to intravascular imaging in cardiology. This presentation will describe recent advances in OCT technology and applications.
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