Microscopy and Biomedical Imaging

This research area focuses on creating novel microscopy and imaging methods and concepts in obtaining biological information from bio-sensing and biomedical imaging approaches, including bio-analytics, proteomics, visible light, x-ray, magnetic resonance, nuclear medicine, electron, and ultrasound imaging.

The following selected research topics list some examples of current activities that are pursued by the MSB members.

Biological and optical imaging

PI Vasilis Ntziachristos

Optoacoustic imaging, or photoacoustic imaging, is insensitive to photon scattering within biological tissue and, unlike conventional optical imaging methods, and makes high-resolution optical visualization deep within tissue possible. Recent advances in laser technology, detection strategies and inversion techniques have led to significant improvements in the capabilities of optoacoustic systems. A key empowering feature - pioneered at TUM - is the development of video-rate multispectral imaging in two and three dimensions, which offers fast, spectral differentiation of distinct photo-absorbing modalities.  

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Phase-contrast x-ray Imaging

PI Franz Pfeiffer

The basic physics principles of x-ray image formation in radiology have remained essentially unchanged since Röntgen first discovered x-rays over a hundred years ago. The conventional approach relies on x-ray attenuation as the sole source of contrast and ignores another, complementary source of contrast. Phase-contrast imaging techniques, on the other hand, offer ways to augment or complement standard attenuation contrast by incorporating phase information. In the recent past several developments have been made that now allow translating x-ray phase-contrast to future clinical applications in radiography and computed tomography. 

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Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Imaging

PI Axel Haase

Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) is a spectroscopic method, which is commonly used in science to elucidate the structure and dynamics of molecules. It uses strong magnetic fields (up to 23 Tesla) with highest homogeneity, temporal stability, and with radio frequency fields (up to 1 GHz). The additional use of magnetic field gradients (up to 1 Tesla/m) allows for the acquisition of MR images.

In general, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) uses the 1H MR signal from water and lipid molecules to create 2D or 3D images of biological objects (organs, animals, plants, human subjects). MRI is a non-invasive method and shows no biological side effects.

Therefore it is ideally suited to study and visualize the anatomy, function and metabolism of internal organs.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging Biomarkers

PI Franz Schilling

Magnetic resonance imaging biomarkers enable a comprehensive characterization of tissue providing functional, physiological, metabolic, cellular and molecular information beyond anatomical structures. In recent years, hyperpolarization techniques allowed to increase the inherent low sensitivity of magnetic resonance by more than four orders of magnitude, opening new applications ranging from the tracking of chemical reactions in real-time to the direct monitoring of metabolic processes in vivo. Another functional MRI technique that has already shown promise in characterizing tissue in clinical studies is diffusion-weighted MRI (DW-MRI). It enables the quantitative assessment of the apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) that depends on microstructural tissue properties, including cellularity and intercellular matrix composition. At TUM, sensitive hyperpolarized molecules and advanced diffusion MRI techniques are being developed aiming to provide novel imaging biomarkers to characterize tissue function.