Adrian Podoleanu (University of Kent), has been awarded a proof of concept grant from the European Research Council to develop an adapter that will allow Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) imaging through a commercial grade camera or smartphone.


OCT is a non-invasive imaging technique that uses light rather than sound waves to capture imagery at a far higher resolution than other imaging modalities, such as ultrasound or MRI. OCT is used extensively in ophthalmology to produce cross-sectional pictures of the retina, retinal nerve fiber layer and the optic nerve head, which then help with diagnosis. It is also used in cardiology and basic science research applications.


The primary limitation with current OCT technology is its expense, meaning that only specialized ophthalmology practices and optometry shops can afford an OCT instrument. This grant aims to develop an adapter that will take advantage of recent progress in smartphone camera technology, such as advances in their modes of operation and advances in the sensitivity and speed of their photodetector arrays.


Several versions of low cost core OCT systems have already been assembled using conventional grade cameras, however significant work needs to be done to make such adapters commercially viable. The grant has the potential to make adapters much more cost-effective, compact and easy to use. This will greatly widen the use of OCT, enabling OCT imaging to be used for rapid and accurate diagnosis at home and in low-cost practices.


Three different versions of low cost functional OCT systems will be assembled as proof of concepts which will respond to the needs of three possible markets that would benefit from such an adapter; en-face depth resolved, high transversal resolution microscope, fast cross sectioning imager and swept source volumetric analyser. The grant will last for 18 months from 1st June 2017.