News | May 27, 2014

New Sensor Could Light Way Forward in Low-Cost Medical Imaging

May 27, 2014 — New research published in Nature’s Scientific Reports identifies a new type of light sensor that could allow medical and security imaging via low-cost cameras.

The team of researchers from the University of Surrey has developed a new multispectral light sensor that detects the full spectrum of light, from ultraviolet (UV) to visible and near infrared light. Near infrared light can be used to perform noninvasive medical procedures, such as measuring the oxygen level in tissue and detecting tumors. It is also already commonly used in security camera systems and for quality control in the agriculture and food industry.

The researchers believe that having a single low-cost near infrared system, in addition to conventional imaging, opens up new possibilities. "Until now, specialist light sensors have been limited in the kinds of light they can detect, with multiple sensors required to measure different ranges of the light spectrum, significantly increasing cost," said lead researcher Richard Curry, Ph.D., from the University of Surrey's Advanced Technology Institute.

"This new technology could allow surgeons to see inside tissue to find tumors prior to surgery, as well as equip consumer products, such as cameras and mobile phones, with night imaging options,” Curry added. “This is useful for capturing quality pictures in the dark, and may eventually enable parents to simply monitor a child's blood or tissue oxygenation level via a smartphone camera, which could be linked to healthcare professionals.”

The sensors are highly flexible and can be produced cheaply, using the same laser printers found in homes and offices, and unlike other sensors, do not require specialized manufacturing conditions.

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