Greetings from Washington, DC, and the OSA Controlled Light Propagation Incubator meeting! Hosted by Tom Bifano and Jerome Mertz, Boston University, USA; Sylvain Gigan, Institut Langevin, France; and Allard Mosk, University of Twente, Netherlands; today’s event brings leading researchers from the fields of biological imaging and adaptive optics together with partners from industry and government for a candid discussion of the technological breakthroughs, challenges, and goals that have materialized in the past few years. This is the eleventh meeting in the OSA’s Incubator series, which was established in 2009 as a way to promote the growth and development of nascent fields within the broader optics and photonics research community.
The application of adaptive optics techniques--namely, optical wavefront shaping and phase modulation--to correct aberrations arising from highly scattering and disordered media holds tremendous promise for in vivo fluorescence imaging of biological tissue, and in particular the functional imaging of neural circuits. This topic has experienced an explosion of research activity in recent years, driven in large part by funding and interest from the BRAIN initiative, the Presidential focus aimed at mapping and unlocking the inner workings of the human brain. Following previous Incubator meetings in Optogenetics and Adaptive Optics, the organizers see today’s meeting as a natural next step.
Most of the new techniques take a hybrid acousto-optic approach to imaging, using a high numerical aperture ultrasound transducer to focus deep inside tissue and a spatial light modulator to tailor an excitation pulse into sharp focus in the same region. The latter has now been accomplished through a variety of strategies, such as phase conjugation, optimization of photoacoustic feedback, and measurement of the system transmission matrix. The organizers hope that this two-day meeting will allow participants to compare notes on which techniques work best under which conditions (e.g. ballistic versus diffusive scattering), which seem most promising for high-speed imaging in vivo, and what technology bottlenecks still need to be overcome in order to make these techniques viable for widespread use.