Integrated Spectrometers for Spectral Tissue Sensing (InSPECT)
Integrated Spectrometer for Spectral Tissue Sensing
Minimally-invasive image-guided procedures – such as taking biopsies in screening suspicious nodules for cancerous tumours – are becoming increasingly important in clinical practice. Today, physicians are severely hampered by the lack of precision of the needle tip location during an intervention.
Real-time tissue-characterization feedback at the device tip during these procedures can greatly reduce false negatives, significantly improve the outcome of diagnosis and treatment, and reduce the cost of oncology treatment. Spectral tissue sensing using photonic needles has the promise to be a valuable tool for screening tumours, as shown by several clinical studies.
However, for widespread adoption the cost and size of these photonic needle systems – in particular the spectrometer console – need to be improved dramatically in order to make it commercially viable for also screening at point of care locations such as physicians’ offices and outpatient centres. So far, it has been very difficult to realize a low-cost miniature system due to three key challenges.
Our key challenges
1. The broad-band illumination challenge, i.e. to illuminate the sample under study with a
continuous broad-band spectrum, covering both the visible, near and shortwave infrared, one has to
rely on rather bulky and energy inefficient incandescent or halogen lamps.
2. The broad-band sensitivity challenge, i.e. to distinguish different types of tissue by their
molecular fingerprints the spectral tissue sensing application requires a high sensitivity over
a broad spectral range (VIS/NIR/SWIR, 400-1700 nm), which is currently only possible by
combining discrete, bulky and costly spectrometers.
3. The integration challenge, i.e. there is currently no system that is high-performing and is still fully integrated, miniaturized, and cost-effective.
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