Towards super-resolved terahertz microscopy for cellular imagingMore about Open Access at the Crick
Biomedical imaging includes the use of a variety of techniques to study organs and tissues. Some of the possible imaging modalities are more spread at clinical level (CT, MRI, PET), while others, such as Light and Electron Microscopy are preferred in life sciences research. The choice of the imaging modalities can be based on the capability to study functional aspects of an organism, the delivered radiation dose to the patient, and the achievable resolution. In the last few decades, spectroscopists and imaging scientists have been interested in the use of terahertz (THz) frequencies (300 microns to 3 mm wavelength) due to the low photon energy associated (E∼1 meV, not causing breaking of the molecular bonds but still interacting with some vibrational modes) and the high penetration depth that is achievable. THz has been already adopted in security, quality control, and material sciences. However, the adoption of THz frequencies for biological and clinical imaging means to face, as a major limitation, the very scarce resolution associated with the use of such long wavelengths. To address this aspect and reconcile the benefit of minimal harmfulness for bioimaging with the achievable resolving power, many attempts have been made. This review summarises the state-of-the-art of THz imaging applications aimed at achieving super-resolution, describing how practical aspects of optics and quasi-optics may be treated to efficaciously implement the use of THz as a new low-dose and versatile modality in biomedical imaging and clinical research. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.