Over the past decade, nonlinear optical microscopy has seen a dramatic rise in its use in research settings due to its noninvasiveness, enhanced penetration depth, intrinsic optical sectioning, and the ability to probe chemical compounds with molecular specificity without exogenous contrast agents. Nonlinear optical techniques including two-photon excitation fluorescence (2PEF), fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy (FLIM), second harmonic generation (SHG), coherent anti-Stokes and stimulated Raman scattering (CARS and SRS, respectively), as well as transient and sum frequency absorption (TA and SFA, respectively), have been widely used to explore the physiology and microanatomy of skin. Recently, these modalities have shed light on dermal processes that could not have otherwise been observed, including the spatiotemporal monitoring of cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. However, a challenge quickly arises when studying such chemicals in a dermatological context: many exogenous compounds have optical signatures that can interfere with the signals that would otherwise be acquired from intact skin. For example, oily solvents exhibit strong signals when probing CH2 vibrations with CARS/SRS; chemical sun filters appear bright in 2PEF microscopy; and darkly colored compounds readily absorb light across a broad spectrum, producing strong TA/SFA signals. Thus, this discussion will first focus on the molecular contrast in skin that can be probed using the aforementioned nonlinear optical techniques. This will be followed by an overview of strategies that take advantage of the exogenous compounds’ optical signatures to probe spatiotemporal dynamics while preserving endogenous information from skin.
Sam Osseiran, Hequn Wang, and Conor L. Evans, "Noninvasive label-free monitoring of cosmetics and pharmaceuticals in human skin using nonlinear optical microscopy (Conference Presentation)," Proc. SPIE 10046, Visualizing and Quantifying Drug Distribution in Tissue, 1004605 (Presented at SPIE BiOS: January 28, 2017; Published: 19 April 2017); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2253390.5370230224001.
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