Tech focus: Neurophotonics

Share this on social media:

Image credit: Gorodenkoff/Shutterstock.com

A look at the current market for Neurophotonics and some of the products and solutions available

Neurophotonics is the science of how light interacts or is used in both natural and genetically modified neurological systems. It uses photons to study the brain and its processes at the cellular and molecular level. 

Originally perceived as something of an extension to biophotonics, which uses similar techniques, neurophotonics has become a fast-growing field in its own right. In its latest report, research firm Data Bridge Market research predicted that the global neurophotonics market is expected to reach an estimated $2607.58m by 2028 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.88 per cent. 

One of the driving forces, according to the report, is the prevalence of disease in some parts of the world. On a more positive note, an increase in research and development activities was also cited as a vital factor for the predicted market growth, alongside a rise in healthcare expenditures, increase in the healthcare outcomes in countries such as the US and a rise in the number of hospitals all over the world. In addition, the report predicted that increased demand from emerging economies will create even more opportunities for the neurophotonics market. 

 

Lumencor: Featured product

Lumencor’s Celesta Light Engine is a multi-line, solid-state laser illuminator, designed to support numerous demanding fluorescence microscopy applications. The Light Engine delivers 1000mW from each of seven intense, pre-aligned, independently operable lasers at the distal end of an optical fibre or light guide. Power is actively stabilised for superior short and long-term reproducibility, overall data quality and quantitation. 

The laser outputs are refined by bandpass filters and merged into a common optical train directed to the light output port on the front panel. The light output port has a built-in adapter for connection to microscopes and other bioanalytical instruments through an SMAterminated optical fibre. The lasers are allied with sophisticated control and monitoring systems to deliver the performance needed for spinning disk confocal microscopy, optogenetics and other advanced imaging applications. Celesta’s controls are implemented in numerous image acquisition software packages. Triggering supports fast (100 microseconds) switching. Customisation is available, please enquire. 

www.lumencor.com

 

Commercial products 

Vendors of neurophotonics products and solutions include Artinis Medical Systems functional near infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) instruments for brain imaging. The functional component comes from the fact that the fNIRS devices are capable of assessing brain activity by measuring changes in oxyhemoglobin and deoxyhemoglobin, which reflect local brain activity. Moreover, fNIRS provides a non-invasive manner to achieve an excellent resolution brain signal in real time. 

Advanced Micro Foundry (AMF) specialises in customisable prototyping and manufacturing services for Silicon Photonics integrated circuits. Its technology has been used in many applications, including research and academia for prototyping of probes to record brain activity, amongst other use cases. 

Bruker offers high-field preclinical and molecular imaging systems for obtaining high-resolution visualisations of the brain, including MRI scanners specifically designed for in vivo rodent imaging, such as the Biospec 15.2 T scanner. Neuroscientists can also benefit from the company’s Positron Emission Tomography (PET) systems to obtain metabolic information. For example, PET can be used to detect changes in brain metabolic activity and receptor densities. 

Cairn Research is an independent scientific instrument manufacturer. It designs and builds equipment for optical and electrophysiological measurements. In addition to its standard product range, integrated solutions can also be produced for demanding experimental needs. The company has a range of equipment for Neurophotonics applications. 

Cobolt offers a series of laser assemblies specifically tailored for advanced optogenetics research. Solutions include single-line lasers with stable and efficient coupling into multi mode fibres, two lasers on a common platform launched into one common fibre coupler, or two lasers sitting side by side launched into one fibre coupler each, suitable for 2-into-1 coupling using, for example, fused fibres. 

Edmund Optics can provide a range of optics to enable fluorescence imaging. Fluorescence microscopy can be used to detect ailments of the brain more quickly so that they can be treated. The company’s finite conjugate objectives, for example, are microscope objectives that do not require a secondary lens to focus onto a specimen. They are typically optimised for use in the visible spectrum and contain up to four lens elements. 

The Femto3D Atlas microscope from Femtonics is used in twophoton microscopy applications, allowing neuroscientists to reach the deep regions of the brain (down to 850µm) and study them at a high spatiotemporal resolution. The microscope enables the precise spatial and real-time complexity of neuronal coding in a neural network to be resolved by scanning a large number of cells distributed in a near cubic millimetre 3D volume. 

Hamamatsu’s range of brain and tissue oxygen monitors can continuously and noninvasively measure oxygenation in the brain or other tissue in the body. Applications range from monitoring tissue oxygenation during surgery to clinical studies on brain functions. 

Leica Microsystems offers microscope solutions to support neurosurgeons in complex microsurgery applications. The microscopes provide optimal and reliable visualisation, including built-in fluorescence filters and GLOW 800 augmented reality fluorescence. This and ICG create a simultaneous white-light and real-time fluorescent blood flow view. 

Lumencor’s solid-state light engines house light sources that offer controllable output on the millisecond level, the same timescale as nerve impulse occurrences. The products comply with the primary spectral output requirement to have maximal overlap integral of the light engine spectral output with the action spectra of photoactivatable ion channel proteins (475 nm for stimulation with channelrhodopsin and 575 nm for inhibition with halorhodopsin). This has led to the products being used in numerous optogenetics light delivery projects for neuroscience and other applications. 

MKS Instruments recently expanded its Spectra-Physics InSight X3+ tunable ultrafast lasers with the introduction of an integrated attenuation option. This new capability provides on-board, software-controlled adjustment of the output power to augment the built-in automated wavelength and dispersion compensation tuning for added optimisation of multiphoton imaging performance. InSight lasers offer 680 to 1300nm wavelength tuning range, and every InSight laser includes DeepSee automated dispersion compensation to ensure the shortest pulses are delivered to the sample. They are used in a number of bio-imaging and neurophotonics applications. 

Wavelength Electronics’s LDD400P series 400 mA laser diode drivers are widely used in laser spectroscopy, electro-optical systems, biomedical research and neurophotonic applications. The low noise drivers offer high stability in constant current mode. They can precisely control the laser diode current with the on-board output current adjust trimpot, or via a remote voltage to the modulation input. They can also adjust the limit current trimpot to protect the laser diode from exceeding its maximum current rating, even when modulating the laser diode. 

Zeiss International offers a number of products for neuroscience applications, such as the Axio Examiner fixed-stage microscope, suited to electrophysiology studies. For imaging of whole brain sections, the Axio Scan.Z1 is an integrated solution. Meanwhile, closer neuroscience research investigations of fluorescently labelled neuronal spines are possible using super-resolution microscopy methods, such as structured illumination microscopy (SR-SIM). The company’s ELYRA S.1 provides twice the resolving power of a conventional light microscope by using any conventional fluorophore and Z-sectioning for 3D data acquisition. 

This is not an exhaustive list. If you want your company included, please email: editor.electro@europascience.com