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Guidestar-assisted wavefront-shaping methods for focusing light into biological tissue


In the field of biomedical optics, optical scattering has traditionally limited the range of imaging within tissue to a depth of one millimetre. A recently developed class of wavefront-shaping techniques now aims to overcome this limit and achieve diffraction-limited control of light beyond one centimetre. By manipulating the spatial profile of an optical field before it enters a scattering medium, it is possible to create a micrometre-scale focal spot deep within tissue. To successfully operate in vivo, these wavefront-shaping techniques typically require feedback from within the biological sample. This Review summarizes recently developed 'guidestar' mechanisms that provide feedback for intra-tissue focusing. Potential applications of guidestar-assisted focusing include optogenetic control over neurons, targeted photodynamic therapy and deep tissue imaging.

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Figure 1: Principle of wavefront shaping.
Figure 2: Matrix model of scattering in tissue.
Figure 3: Feedback guidestars.
Figure 4: Conjugation guidestars.
Figure 5: Tissue motion dims an OPC focus.


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We thank M. Jang, E. Zhou, B. Judkewitz, I. M. Vellekoop, J. Brake, H. Deng and M. Harfouche for helpful feedback during manuscript preparation. This work is supported by the National Institutes of Health (1DP2OD007307-01), the National Institutes of Health BRAIN Initiative (1U01NS090577-01) and a GIST-Caltech Collaborative Research Proposal (CG2012).

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Correspondence to Roarke Horstmeyer.

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Horstmeyer, R., Ruan, H. & Yang, C. Guidestar-assisted wavefront-shaping methods for focusing light into biological tissue. Nature Photon 9, 563–571 (2015).

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