SLAM Microscopy was named one of the ten best microscopy innovations in 2019 by the journal Microscopy Today.  SLAM microscopy, which stands for Simultaneous Label-free Autofluorescence Multi-harmonic microscopy, is a new imaging technology developed by senior research scientist Dr. Haohua Tu, bioengineering graduate student Sixian You, and a team of researchers from professor Stephen Boppart’s Biophotonics Imaging Laboratory at the Beckman Institute.


SLAM microscopy achieves real-time, functional, molecular, and structural imaging, which enables richer visualization of living systems. The nonlinear optical imaging platform uses a custom-designed supercontinuum excitation source at 1110 nm wavelength and ultrafast pulses at 10 MHz to enable fast single-shot acquisition of auto-fluorescence (FAD and NADH) and second/third harmonic generation from a wide array of cellular and extracellular components in living tissue, such as tumor cells, immune cells, vesicles, and vessels.


The single-source, single-excitation configuration of SLAM microscopy also allows for straightforward clinical translation, and clinical studies have already been performed with a portable system to visualize the dynamic tumor microenvironment in freshly excised human breast tissue/tumor specimens imaged in the operating room. Ongoing research is developing ways to flexibly access deep tissue sites by a miniature (laparoscopic) optical system, or by a fiber-based endoscope. 


Boppart serves as the executive associate dean and chief diversity officer of the Carle Illinois College of Medicine, and is an Abel Bliss professor of engineering with appointments in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the Department of Bioengineering. Boppart received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Illinois in electrical engineering, his Ph.D. in medical and electrical engineering from MIT, and his M.D. from Harvard Medical School. He completed his residency training in internal medicine through the University of Illinois College of Medicine.  His Biophotonics Imaging Laboratory, established in 2000, has focused on developing novel optical imaging and sensing technologies, applying these to fundamental biological discovery, and translating them into clinical applications.


The award ceremony will be held on August 7 at the 2019 Microscopy & Microanalysis meeting in Portland, Oregon.