Open-source microscopy add-on may improve 2D, 3D brain imaging

Researchers from Tel Aviv University in Israel created a new microscopy method that utilizes an add-on for laser scanning microscopes to improve the quality of 2D and 3D brain imaging, according to research published Sept. 13 in Optica.

The novel method—called PySight— is a combination of open-source software and hardware. Laser-based imaging technique multiphoton microscopy is traditionally used to study deep brain tissue over time, but imaging must be done quickly. This ultimately reduces the photons available to form advanced images. 

“To tackle this challenge, microscopists have used a detector-readout method called photon counting,” said research leader Pablo Blinder from Tel Aviv University, in a release. “However, because its implementation required extensive electronics knowledge and custom components, photon counting has never been widely adopted. In addition, commercially available photon counting solutions were ill-suited to perform very fast imaging such as required for 3D imaging.

Blinder and colleagues utilized spatiotemporal resolution, allowing PySight to produce a data stream that scales along with the detected photons. The result is a rapid imaging technique that can process large volumes over long durations while preserving imaging quality, Blinder said.

The open-source nature of the software enables other scientists to customize the add-on to meet individual needs, according to the statement. In the future, the team hopes to add support for other imaging methods such as fluorescence lifetime imaging, which also relies heavily on photons.