An Intra-Tissue Radiometry Microprobe for Measuring Radiance In Situ in Living Tissue

Amanda L. Holt, Yakir Luc Gagnon, Alison M. Sweeney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Organisms appear opaque largely because their outer tissue layers are strongly scattering to incident light; strongly absorbing pigments, such as blood, typically have narrow absorbances, such that the mean free path of light outside the absorbance peaks can be quite long. As people cannot see through tissue, they generally imagine that tissues like the brain, fat, and bone contain little or no light. However, photoresponsive opsin proteins are expressed within many of these tissues, and their functions are poorly understood. Radiance internal to tissue is also important for understanding photosynthesis. For example, giant clams are strongly absorbing yet maintain a dense population of algae deep in the tissue. Light propagation through systems like sediments and biofilms can be complex, and these communities can be major contributors to ecosystem productivity. Therefore, a method for constructing optical micro-probes for measuring scalar irradiance (photon flux intersecting a point) and downwelling irradiance (photon flux crossing a plane perpendicularly) to better understand these phenomena inside living tissue has been developed. This technique is also tractable in field laboratories. These micro-probes are made from heat-pulled optical fibers that are then secured in pulled glass pipettes. To change the angular acceptance of the probe, a 10-100 µm sized sphere of UV-curable epoxy mixed with titanium dioxide is then secured to the end of a pulled, trimmed fiber. The probe is inserted into living tissue, and its position is controlled using a micromanipulator. These probes are capable of measuring in situ tissue radiance at spatial resolutions of 10-100 µm or on the scale of single cells. These probes were used to characterize the light reaching the adipose and brain cells 4 mm below the skin of a living mouse and to characterize the light reaching similar depths within living algae-rich giant clam tissue.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere64595
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Issue number196
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Medical Biotechnology


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