A polarization imaging apparatus has shown promise as a prototype of instruments for medical imaging with contrast greater than that achievable by use of non-polarized light. The underlying principles of design and operation are derived from observations that light interacts with tissue ultrastructures that affect reflectance, scattering, absorption, and polarization of light. The apparatus utilizes high-speed electro-optical components for generating light properties and acquiring polarization images through aligned polarizers. These components include phase retarders made of OptoCeramic® material — a ceramic that has a high electro-optical coefficient.

The apparatus includes a computer running a program that implements a novel algorithm for controlling the phase retarders, capturing image data, and computing the Stokes polarization images. Potential applications include imaging of superficial cancers and other skin lesions, early detection of diseased cells, and microscopic analysis of tissues. The high imaging speed of this apparatus could be beneficial for observing live cells or tissues, and could enable rapid identification of moving targets in astronomy and national defense. The apparatus could also be used as an analysis tool in material research and industrial processing.

This work was done by Yingyin K. Zou and Qiushui Chen of Boston Applied Technologies, Inc. for Johnson Space Center. For further information, contact the JSC Innovation Partnerships Office at (281) 483-3809.

In accordance with Public Law 96-517, the contractor has elected to retain title to this invention. Inquiries concerning rights for its commercial use should be addressed to:

Boston Applied Technologies
6F Gill Street
Woburn, MA 01801
Phone No.: (781) 935-2800

Refer to MSC-24173-1, volume and number of this NASA Tech Briefs issue, and the page number.

Imaging Technology Magazine

This article first appeared in the March, 2010 issue of Imaging Technology Magazine.

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