Terahertz imaging of biological samples
The growing need for an accurate, objective and fast diagnosis has resulted in a growing use of digital imaging in routine diagnostics. However, in most cases is still used the standard staining with hematoxylin-eosin (H & E), which allows only a morphological classification of tissues, while, for the functional aspects, we resort to more complex procedures of immunohistochemistry. A detailed characterization, in terms of functionality of the tissue, however, can also be achieved by implementing in microscopy spectroscopic techniques, such as Raman spectroscopy, FTIR spectroscopy in the Mid-Infrared, and THz spectroscopy, since such techniques allow, in principle, to reconstruct the molecular composition of the sample analysed. Each biological sample is characterized by a vibrational spectrum formed by the sum of the chemical fingerprint of its molecular components. By means of the above techniques, you can get information on the chemical composition of the sample with sufficient spatial resolution and without any exogenous tracer. In this experiment we propose, in particular, to develop multispectral imaging techniques in the Middle and Far Infrared (THz) for analysis and automated diagnostics of tissue samples with solid tumours, in order to pave the way in the near future, for a potential in vivo use of the same techniques. Achieving these results will require the creation of a joint research team that includes specialists in applied optics, spectroscopy and medical diagnostics, able to develop innovative diagnostic techniques that meet the real medical needs and that interface effectively with the methods commonly used. The experiment is inserted in the activities of a national research project, funded by Ente Cassa di Risparmio di Firenze.