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Published November 16, 2023 | in press
Journal Article

Label-free biomedical optical imaging

  • 1. ROR icon California Institute of Technology


Label-free optical imaging employs natural and non-destructive approaches to visualize biomedical samples for both biological assays and clinical diagnosis. At present, this field revolves around multiple technology-oriented communities, each with a specific focus on a particular modality, despite the existence of shared challenges and applications. As a result, biologists or clinical researchers who require label-free imaging are often not aware of the most appropriate modality to use. This Review presents a comprehensive overview of, and comparison among, different label-free imaging modalities and discusses common challenges and applications. We expect this Review to facilitate collaborative interactions between imaging communities, push the field forwards and foster technological advancements and biophysical discoveries, as well as facilitate new avenues in clinical detection, diagnosis and monitoring of diseases.

Copyright and License

© Springer Nature Limited 2023. Springer Nature or its licensor (e.g. a society or other partner) holds exclusive rights to this article under a publishing agreement with the author(s) or other rightsholder(s); author self-archiving of the accepted manuscript version of this article is solely governed by the terms of such publishing agreement and applicable law.


We acknowledge the support of the following grants: Horizon2020 ERC grant (678316) (PI: N.T.S.). NIH Center for Label-free Imaging and Multiscale Biophotonics (CLIMB) at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (http://climb.beckman.illinois.edu) P41 EB031772 and NIH grant numbers R01 CA241618 and R01 CA213149 (PI: S.A.B.). NIH grant numbers R01 NS102213, U01 EB029823 (BRAIN Initiative), R35 CA220436 (Outstanding Investigator Award), and R01 EB028277 (PI: L.V.W.).

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare no competing interests.

Additional details

November 17, 2023
November 17, 2023