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


The overarching goal of this research is to develop a novel photoacoustic microscopy: PAM) technology capable of high-speed, high-resolution 3D imaging in vivo. PAM combines the advantages of optical absorption contrast and ultrasonic resolution for deep imaging beyond the quasi-ballistic regime. Its high sensitivity to optical absorption enables the imaging of important physiological parameters, such as hemoglobin concentration and oxygen saturation, which closely correlate with angiogenesis and hypermetabolism--two hallmarks of cancer. To translate PAM to the clinic, both high imaging speed and high spatial resolution are desired. With high spatial resolution, PAM can detect small structural and functional changes early; whereas, high-speed image acquisition helps reduce motion artifacts, patient discomfort, cost, and potentially the risks associated with minimally invasive procedures such as endoscopy and intravascular imaging. To achieve high imaging speed, we have constructed a PAM system using a linear ultrasound array and a kHz-repetition-rate tunable laser. The system has achieved a 249-Hz B-scan rate and a 0.5-Hz 3D imaging rate: over ~6 mm × 10 mm × 3 mm), over 200 times faster than existing mechanical scanning PAM using a single ultrasonic transducer. In addition, high-speed optical-resolution photoacoustic microscopy: OR-PAM) technology has been developed, in which the spatial resolution in one or two dimension(s) is defined by the diffraction-limited optical focus. Using section illumination, the elevational resolution of the system has been improved from ~300 micron to ~28 micron, resulting in a significant improvement in the 3D image quality. Furthermore, multiple optical foci with a microlens array have been used to provide finer than 10-micron lateral resolution--enabling the system to image capillary-level microvessels in vivo--while offering a speed potentially 20 times faster than previously existing single-focus OR-PAM. Finally, potential biomedical applications of the developed technology have been demonstrated through in vivo imaging of murine sentinel lymph nodes, microcirculation dynamics, and human pulsatile dynamics. In the future, this high-speed PAM technology may be adapted for clinical imaging of diabetes-induced vascular complications or tumor angiogenesis, or miniaturized for gastrointestinal or intravascular applications.


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