Neuroscience research related to functionality, connectivity and metabolism of neuronal circuits, individual neuronal cells and sub-cellular structures, nowadays, experiences a burgeoning need to develop techniques for the detailed investigation inside the complexity of the living matter. Particularly, high-resolution observations combined with an extended depth of penetration in tissue represents an ongoing challenge.
Holographic control of light propagation in complex media opens a promising way to overcome this technological barrier via exploiting multimode fibres as hair-thin, minimally-invasive endoscopes. This concept allows for more than one order of magnitude reduction of the instrument’s footprint and a significant enhancement of imaging resolution, compared with current minimally invasive endoscopes.
Here, we demonstrate a compact and high-speed system for fluorescent imaging at the tip of a fibre. The instrument’s performance reaches micron-scale resolution across a field of view 50 micrometres, yielding 7-kilopixel image information at a rate of 3.5 frames per second. The resolution limit is dictated only by the numerical aperture of the fibre probe, and the contrast/pureness of the focal points, utilised for raster-scanning regime, approach the theoretical limits for phase-only holographic wavefront shaping.
The achieved performance allowed for in-vivo observations of neuronal somata and processes, residing deep inside the visual cortex and hippocampus of an animal model with minimal damage to the tissue surrounding the fibre penetration area.
We believe that this demonstration represents an important step towards implementations of various advanced forms of imaging through multimode fibre based endoscopes to address numerous key challenges in neuroscience.