The probe is as thin as a human hair. Source: University of AdelaideThe probe is as thin as a human hair. Source: University of Adelaide

A miniaturized single-fiber-based imaging and sensing probe capable of simultaneous optical coherence tomography (OCT) imaging and temperature sensing deep inside the body has been engineered at the University of Adelaide, Australia.

With an outer diameter of only 130 microns, the device was designed to study drug-induced hyperthermia, investigate the toxicology impacts of drug-taking and provide insights into different diseases and therapies.

The OCT lens is fabricated at the distal end of a double-clad fiber, including a thin layer of rare-earth-doped tellurite glass to enable temperature measurements. The high refractive index of the tellurite glass enables a common-path interferometer configuration for OCT, allowing easy exchange of probes for biomedical applications.

The tiny instrument can be delivered deep inside the body in a minimally invasive way to see deep inside the brain. The imaging function guides placement of the probe to the desired brain region as the built-in thermometer monitors temperature changes in the area of interest.

Future versions of the tool will be equipped to record pH values, oxygen saturation, accumulation of fat in arteries and other measurements.

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