Photoacoustic imaging (PAI) is an emerging hybrid imaging modality that can provide a strong optical absorption contrast using the photoacoustic (PA) effect, and breaks through the fundamental imaging depth limit of existing optical microscopy such as optical coherence tomography (OCT), confocal or two-photon microscopy. In PAI, a short-pulsed laser is illuminated to the tissue, and the PA waves are generated by thermoelastic expansion. Despite the high lateral resolution of optical-resolution photoacoustic microscopy (OR-PAM) thanks to the tight optical focus, the lateral resolution of OR-PAM is limited to the optical diffraction limit, which is approximately a half of the excitation wavelength. Here, we demonstrate a new super-resolution photoacoustic microscopy (SR-PAM) system by breaking the optical diffraction limit. The conventional microscopes with nanoscale resolutions such as a scanning electron microscope (SEM) and transmission electron microscope (TEM) are typically used to image the structures of nanomaterials, but these systems should work in a high vacuum environment and cannot provide the optical properties of the materials. Our newly developed SR-PAM system provides the optical properties with a nanoscale resolution in a normal atmosphere. We have photoacoustically imaged single gold nanoparticles with an average size of 80 nm in diameter and shown their PA expansion properties individually. The lateral resolution of this system was approximately 20 nm. Therefore, this tool will provide an unprecedented optical absorption property with an accurate nanoscale resolution and greatly impact on materials science and nanotechnology field.
Seunghyun Lee, Owoong Kwon, Mansik Jeon, Jaejung Song, Minguk Jo, Sungjee Kim, Junwoo Son, Yunseok Kim, and Chulhong Kim, "Super-resolution photoacoustic imaging of single gold nanoparticles," Proc. SPIE 9708, Photons Plus Ultrasound: Imaging and Sensing 2016, 97082J (Presented at SPIE BiOS: February 17, 2016; Published: 18 March 2016); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2211481.
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