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Internal-Illumination Photoacoustic Tomography Enhanced by a Graded-scattering Fiber Diffuser

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posted on 2023-11-30, 20:12 authored by Mucong Li, Tri Vu, Georgy Sankii, Brenton Winship, Kohldon Boydston, Russell Terry, Pei Zhong, Junjie Yao
The penetration depth of photoacoustic imaging in biological tissues has been fundamentally limited by the strong optical attenuation when light is delivered externally through the tissue surface. To address this issue, we previously reported internal-illumination photoacoustic imaging using a customized radial-emission optical fiber diffuser, which, however, has complex fabrication, high cost, and non-uniform light emission. To overcome these shortcomings, we have developed a new type of low-cost fiber diffusers based on a graded-scattering method in which the optical scattering of the fiber diffuser is gradually increased as the light travels. The graded scattering can compensate for the optical attenuation and provide relatively uniform light emission along the diffuser. We performed Monte Carlo numerical simulations to optimize several key design parameters, including the number of scattering segments, scattering anisotropy factor, divergence angle of the optical fiber, and reflective index of the surrounding medium. These optimized parameters collectively result in uniform light emission along the fiber diffuser and can be flexibly adjusted to accommodate different applications. We fabricated and characterized the prototype fiber diffuser made of agarose gel and intralipid. Equipped with the new fiber diffuser, we performed thorough proof-of-concept studies on ex vivo tissue phantoms and an in vivo swine model to demonstrate the deep-imaging capability (~10 cm achieved ex vivo) of photoacoustic tomography. We believe that the internal light delivery via the optimized fiber diffuser is an effective strategy to image deep targets (e.g., kidney) in large animals or humans.

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