Optical resolution photoacoustic microscopy using novel high-repetition-rate passively Q-switched microchip and fiber lasers

Wei Shi, Shaun Kerr, Ilya Utkin, Janaka Ranasinghesagara, Lei Pan, Yogesh Godwal, Roger J Zemp, Robert Fedosejevs
Journal of Biomedical Optics 2010, 15 (5): 056017
Optical-resolution photoacoustic microscopy (OR-PAM) is a novel imaging technology for visualizing optically absorbing superficial structures in vivo with lateral spatial resolution determined by optical focusing rather than acoustic detection. Since scanning of the illumination spot is required, OR-PAM imaging speed is limited by both scanning speed and laser pulse repetition rate. Unfortunately, lasers with high repetition rates and suitable pulse durations and energies are not widely available and can be cost-prohibitive and bulky. We are developing compact, passively Q-switched fiber and microchip laser sources for this application. The properties of these lasers are discussed, and pulse repetition rates up to 100 kHz are demonstrated. OR-PAM imaging was conducted using a previously developed photoacoustic probe, which enabled flexible scanning of the focused output of the lasers. Phantom studies demonstrate the ability to image with lateral spatial resolution of 7±2 μm with the microchip laser system and 15±5 μm with the fiber laser system. We believe that the high pulse repetition rates and the potentially compact and fiber-coupled nature of these lasers will prove important for clinical imaging applications where real-time imaging performance is essential.

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