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Article by BE's Lee Highlighted in Nature Photonics

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

An article by a University of Texas at Arlington bioengineer about a super-resolution imaging technique was highlighted by the journal Nature Photonics in its March issue.

The article, entitled “Subvoxel light-sheet microscopy for high-resolution high-throughput volumetric imaging of large biomedical specimens,” was originally published in the January 28 issue of the journal Advanced Photonics by UTA Assistant Professor of Bioengineering Juhyun Lee and his team.

Images taken using subvoxel light-sheet microscopy
Images of a mouse heart and a zebrafish taken using subvoxel light-sheet microscopy.

The article describes the team’s efforts to use subvoxel light sheets to take very high resolution scans of biomedical specimens over a large field of view, which when processed and pieced together with a reconstruction algorithm, create a 3D image that can be used for pathology, histology, neuroscience and other applications. Subvoxels are the 3D equivalent of high resolution pixels. They are arranged on a laser sheet of light that is then used with a microscope.

Previous efforts required researchers to take high-resolution images of a very small field of view, move the camera, take more images and repeat until the entire specimen was photographed, then stitch the images together later. The new process eliminates the need to stitch the images together and doesn’t require the camera to move multiple times to obtain the images. It can also image intact samples, so researchers don’t have to slice tissue before imaging.

“Before, when zooming in, you could see more detail, but only in a small field of view, or you could zoom out to see the entire field of view, but without clear detail. Subvoxel light-sheet microscopy allows us to obtain the best of both,” Lee said.

Lee is using a pair of grants from the American Heart Association for research that requires the use of subvoxel light-sheet microscopy. In one, he is working to determine which gene expressions affect the development of which parts of the heart in an effort to determine how genes might be used to heal heart tissue damaged by heart attacks. With the other, he is developing a new microscope that can capture 3-D motion, then add time to construct a 4-D beating heart using optical imaging techniques with  nanoparticles in a zebrafish.

“In my lab, I am able to take an image of a beating zebrafish heart, then track each cardiomyocyte clearly. By doing this, simulations of hemodynamic blood flow can be much improved, and we hope to eventually be able to apply this process to 4D imaging as well.”

Lee’s work is the latest example of UTA’s research in cardiac health in support of health and the human condition and data-driven discovery, key tenets of the University’s Strategic Plan 2020, said Michael Cho, chair of the Bioengineering Department.

“Dr. Lee is perfecting the light-sheet 4D imaging technique and applying it to study the heart development. It will help shed light on potential causes of congenital heart disease and fully appreciate the role of biomechanics in the heart,” Cho said.