Optoacoustic techniques rely on ultrasound transmission between optical absorbers within tissues and the measurement location. Much like in echography, commonly used piezoelectric transducers require either direct contact with the tissue or through a liquid coupling medium. The contact nature of this detection approach then represents a disadvantage of standard optoacoustic systems with respect to other imaging modalities (including optical techniques) in applications where non-contact imaging is needed, e.g. in open surgeries or when burns or other lesions are present in the skin. Herein, non-contact optoacoustic imaging using raster-scanning of a spherically-focused piezoelectric air-coupled ultrasound transducer is demonstrated. When employing laser fluence levels not exceeding the maximal permissible human exposure, it is shown possible to attain detectable signals from objects as small as 1 mm having absorption properties representative of blood at near-infrared wavelengths with a relatively low number of averages. Optoacoustic images from vessel-mimicking tubes embedded in an agar phantom are further showcased. The initial results indicate that the air-coupled ultrasound detection approach can be potentially made suitable for non-contact biomedical imaging with optoacoustics.
X. Luís Deán-Ben, Genny A. Pang, Francisco Montero de Espinosa, and Daniel Razansky, "Non-contact optoacoustic imaging by raster scanning a piezoelectric air-coupled transducer," Proc. SPIE 9708, Photons Plus Ultrasound: Imaging and Sensing 2016, 97081W (Presented at SPIE BiOS: February 16, 2016; Published: 15 March 2016); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2213420.
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