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Past Winner
2004 Innovation Challenge Award

John Tze-Wei Yeow

Micromachine-based Optical Coherence Tomographic Imaging System

University of Toronto

John Tze-Wei Yeow, who earned his Ph.D. in mechanical and industrial engineering at the University of Toronto, has designed new micromachined scanners, capable of three-dimensional scanning in internal biomedical imaging.

Conventional surgery requires doctors to create large incisions to expose the anatomy they are working on. This can result in trauma, large scars and postoperative complications. More frequently, surgeons are turning to endoscopy – a minimally-invasive procedure that allows them to examine the inside of a body or organ using a lighted, flexible instrument that requires only a small incision. This trend means there is a growing need in health research and in medicine for small, fast optical scanning systems to use in endoscopies.

Previous micromachined scanners were too small to allow doctors a clear view of the tissues they were examining, or had voltage problems. Yeow's design produces clear, three-dimensional images, and stands up well to repeated use. In the near future, his scanner will reduce the stress and discomfort patients experience when undergoing endoscopic examinations of the colon or the esophagus. Ultimately, Yeow anticipates disposable scanners to reduce the need to decontaminate equipment, and which can be adapted to a variety of biomedical instruments.