Author's School

School of Engineering & Applied Science

Author's Department/Program

Biomedical Engineering


English (en)

Date of Award

January 2010

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Chair and Committee

Lihong Wang


Optical microscopy, providing valuable biomedical insights at the cellular and organelle levels, has been widely recognized as an enabling technology. Mainstream optical microscopy technologies, including single-/multi-photon fluorescence microscopy and OCT, have demonstrated extraordinary sensitivities to fluorescence and optical scattering contrasts, respectively. However, the optical absorption contrast of biological tissues, which encodes essential physiological/pathological information, has not yet been fully assessable. The emergence of biomedical photoacoustics has led to a new branch of optical microscopy--OR-PAM. As a valuable complement to existing optical microscopy technologies, OR-PAM detects optical absorption contrasts with exquisite sensitivity: i.e., 100%). Combining OR-PAM with fluorescence microscopy or optical-scattering-based OCT: or both) provides comprehensive optical properties of biological tissues. Moreover, OR-PAM encodes optical absorption into acoustic waves, in contrast to the pure optical processes in fluorescence microscopy and OCT, and thus provides background-free detection. The acoustic detection in OR-PAM mitigates the impacts of optical scattering on signal degradation and naturally eliminates possible interferences: i.e., crosstalks) between excitation and detection, which is a common problem in fluorescence microscopy due to the overlap between the excitation and fluorescence spectra and imperfect extinction of the filter. Unique for high-resolution imaging of optical absorption, OR-PAM has demonstrated broad biomedical applications in fields such as neurology, ophthalmology, vascular biology, and dermatology. My doctoral research focuses on developments and biomedical applications of OR-PAM. The first part of my dissertation discusses the development of three generations of OR-PAM towards high-resolution, high-sensitivity, high-speed, and wide FOV in vivo imaging. In this section, I provide a comprehensive description of OR-PAM, including the principle, system design, system configuration, experimental procedures, laser safety, functional imaging scheme, and example biomedical applications at a variety of in vivo anatomical sites: i.e., skins, eyes and brains). The second part of my dissertation focuses on the application of OR-PAM in vascular biology, with an emphasis on neovascularization. In this section, I demonstrate longitudinal OR-PAM monitoring of the morphological: i.e., vessel diameter, length, tortuosity and volume) and functional: i.e., sO2) changes of angiogenic microenvironment at the capillary level, in both a non-disease TetON-HIF-1 transgenic mouse model and a cancer xenograft model in mouse ear. The last part of my dissertation focuses on the application of OR-PAM in neurology, with an emphasis on cortical stimulation, Alzheimer's disease, and ischemic stroke. In this section, I use label-free OR-PAM for both acute monitoring of microvascular responses to direct electrical stimulations of the mouse somatosensory cortex through a cranial opening and longitudinal monitoring of the morphological and functional changes of cortical vasculature in a transient middle cerebral artery occlusion mouse model. I also explore the potential of OR-PAM for transcranial monitoring of amyloid plaque growth in an AD mouse model.


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