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VUB develops ultrathin optical fibre for endoscopy


Researchers at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) have developed a new type of optical fibre together with their Polish colleagues of the Institute for Materials Technology (ITME). This optical fibre will allow endoscopic imaging in extremely narrow (less than 0.5 millimetre) places in the body.

The VUB researchers are connected to the Brussels Photonics Team (B-PHOT). The optical fibre they designed with their Polish colleagues allows imaging by adapting the properties of the light before it is coupled into the fibre. Conventional endoscopes use a small camera or a bundle of optical fibres. However, by reducing the endoscope to a diameter of less than 1 millimetre, this technique results in an intolerable loss of image resolution and field of vision.

In theory, the new type of optical fibre allows endoscopes to be made which are not much thicker than a human hair (approximately a tenth of a millimetre). This opens perspectives to do imaging in the future in the least invasive way in places in the body which are difficult to access, such as, for instance, the backbone, the cardiac artery or the brain.

(Below is a report of the opening of the brand-new B-PHOT Photonics Innovation Center)