We report a photoacoustic computed tomography (PACT) system using a customized optical fiber with a cylindrical diffuser to internally illuminate deep targets. The traditional external light illumination in PACT usually limits the penetration depth to a few centimeters from the tissue surface, mainly due to strong optical attenuation along the light propagation path from the outside in. By contrast, internal light illumination, with external ultrasound detection, can potentially detect much deeper targets. Different from previous internal illumination PACT implementations using forward-looking optical fibers, our internal-illumination PACT system uses a customized optical fiber with a 3-cm-long conoid needle diffuser attached to the fiber tip, which can homogeneously illuminate the surrounding space and substantially enlarge the field of view. We characterized the internal illumination distribution and PACT system performance. We performed tissue phantom and in vivo animal studies to further demonstrate the superior imaging depth using internal illumination over external illumination. We imaged a 7.5-cm-deep leaf target embedded in optically scattering medium and the beating heart of a mouse overlaid with 3.7-cm-thick chicken tissue. Our results have collectively demonstrated that the internal light illumination combined with external ultrasound detection might be a useful strategy to improve the penetration depth of PACT in imaging deep organs of large animals and humans.
We report a photoacoustic thermal flowmetry based on optical-resolution photoacoustic microscopy (OR-PAM) using a single laser source for both thermal tagging and photoacoustic excitation. When an optically absorbing medium is flowing across the optical focal zone of OR-PAM, a small volume of the medium within the optical focus is repeatedly illuminated and heated by a train of laser pulses with a high repetition rate. The average temperature of the heated volume at each laser pulse is indicated by the photoacoustic signal excited by the same laser pulse due to the well-established linear relationship between the Grueneisen coefficient and the local temperature. The thermal dynamics of the heated medium volume, which are closely related to the flow speed, can therefore be measured from the time course of the detected photoacoustic signals. Here, we have developed a lumped mathematical model to describe the time course of the photoacoustic signals as a function of the medium’s flow speed. We conclude that the rising time constant of the photoacoustic signals is linearly dependent on the flow speed. Thus, the flow speed can be quantified by fitting the measured photoacoustic signals using the derived mathematical model. We first performed proof-of-concept experiments using defibrinated bovine blood flowing in a plastic tube. The experiment results have demonstrated that the proposed method has high accuracy (∼±6%) and a wide range of measurable flow speeds. We further validated the method by measuring the blood flow speeds of the microvasculature in a mouse ear in vivo.
Disease diagnosis based on the visual inspection of the pathological presentations or symptoms on the epithelial tissue such as the skin are subjective and highly depend on the experience of the doctors. Vital diagnostic information for the accurate identification of diseases is usually located underneath the surface and its depth distribution is known to be related to disease progression. Although optical spectroscopic measurements are fast and non-invasive, the accurate retrieval of the depth-specific diagnostic information is complicated by the heterogeneous nature of epithelial tissues. The optical signal measured from a tissue is often the result of averaging from a large tissue volume that mixes information from the region of interest and the surrounding tissue region, especially from the overlaying layers. Our group has developed a series of techniques for depth sensitive optical measurements from such layered tissues. We will first review the earlier development of composite fiber-optic probe, in which the source-detector separation and the angles of source and detector fibers are varied to achieve depth sensitive measurements. Then the more recent development of non-contact axicon lens based probes for depth sensitive fluorescence measurements and the corresponding numerical methods for optimization will be introduced. Finally, the most recently developed snapshot axicon lens based probe that can measure Raman spectra from five different depths at the same time will be discussed. Results from tissue phantoms, ex vivo pork samples and in vivo fingernail measurements will be presented, which indicates the great potential of depth sensitive optical spectroscopy for clinical tissue diagnosis.
In this work, we report a novel substrate for surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) composed of silver nanoparticles protected by small nitrogen-doped Graphene Quantum Dots, i.e. Ag NPs-N-GQDs, synthesized under mild experimental conditions, which can preserve the SERS performance in normal indoor environment for up to 30 days. The field emission scanning electronic microscope (FESEM) images confirm that the N-GQDs play a significant role in the control of metallic nanoparticles morphology. The X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) result clearly indicates the N-GQDs was successfully immobilized on the surface of silver nanoparticles (Ag NPs). Ag NPs-N-GQDs demonstrated Raman enhancement stronger than pure Ag NPs likely due to an increase in the number of the “hotspots” formed by coupled nanostructures. N-GQD protected Ag NPs were evaluated in SERS measurements of R6G when they were made fresh and have been stored in normal indoors condition for up to 30 days. Then Ag NPs-N-GQDs were used as a SERS substrate for glucose detection. The linearity range of glucose was found to be ranged from 1 μM to 1 M with a detection limit of 0.1 μM in glucose solutions. It was also applied successfully for glucose detection in rat blood samples. The present study demonstrates that the novel Ag NPs−N-GQDs nanostructure has great potential to be used as a cost effective sustained SERS substrate, which can be extremely useful in the wide adoption of SERS based sensors.