Conventional OCT implementations require speed-limited mechanical scanning methods or, alternatively, time-consuming DSP, in addition to a limited maximum penetration depth. The DIVINE project stems from the belief that the use of optics still represents the turning point for the definitive progress of this diagnostic technique.

What the DIVINE project proposes is a fully photonics-based OCT system where both the scanning and data processing operations (with particular reference to A-scan/B-scan and fast Fourier transform) are carried out at very high-speed in the optical domain. These two revolutionary advancements lead to rapid imaging process corresponding not only to short imaging times, but also to acquisition and processing of larger amount of data in a shorter time. Another consequence is an increase of the volume under test with reduced motion and interpolation artifacts. The main innovative benefits of the next-generation OCT system to be developed in DIVINE are:

  • Unprecedented three-dimensional (3D)-imaging update rate;
  • Unprecedented volume section under test;
  • Unprecedented volume reconstruction accuracy;
  • Unprecedented measurement accuracy due to the removal of mechanical scanning elements.

The main outcomes of DIVINE are expected to be crucial for all the OCT application fields such as ophthalmology, oncology, musculoskeletal disease and cardiovascular diagnosis. For instance, spatial scanning is currently achieved by mechanical movements such as moving arm in ophthalmology or rotating mirror in intravascular OCT (IVOCT), with consequent relevant vibrations affecting the accuracy of the measurement. The scan-free concept in DIVINE avoids any moving element. As a second example, in ophthalmology the measurement noise coming from the eye motion during the acquisition can be dramatically reduced by speeding up the acquisition. Moreover, in IVOCT a higher speed of both the acquisition and processing operations enables real-time monitoring of the whole 3D artery structure. The possibility to monitor the elasticity of the artery walls during heart beating would be extremely helpful to test the correct positioning of a stent following its application, so as to confirm the success of the surgery. The DIVINE approach makes possible such a fast 3D monitoring with at least real-time refresh rate.

Block diagram of the DIVINE complete OCT system