The attenuation of excitation power reaching the focus is the main issue that limits the depth penetration of highresolution imaging of biological tissue. The attenuation is caused by a combination of tissue scattering and absorption. Theoretical model of the effective attenuation length for in vivo mouse brain imaging has been built based on the data of the absorption of water and blood and the Mie scattering of a tissue-like phantom. Such a theoretical model has been corroborated at a number of excitation wavelengths, such as 800 nm, 1300 nm , and 1700 nm ; however, the attenuation caused by absorption is negligible when compared to tissue scattering at all these wavelength windows. Here we performed in vivo three-photon imaging of Texas Red-stained vasculature in the same mouse brain with different excitation wavelengths, 1700 nm, 1550 nm, 1500 nm and 1450 nm. In particular, our studies include the wavelength regime where strong water absorption is present (i.e., 1450 nm), and the attenuation by water absorption is predicted to be the dominant contribution in the excitation attenuation. Based on the experimental results, we found that the effective attenuation length at 1450 nm is significantly shorter than those at 1700 nm and 1300 nm. Our results confirm that the theoretical model based on tissue scattering and water absorption is accurate in predicting the effective attenuation lengths for in vivo imaging. The optimum excitation wavelength windows for in vivo mouse brain imaging are at 1300 nm and 1700 nm.
We demonstrate three-photon microscopy (3PM) of mouse cerebellum at 1 mm depth by imaging both blood vessels and neurons. We compared 3PM and 2PM in the mouse cerebellum for imaging green (using excitation sources at 1300 nm and 920 nm, respectively) and red fluorescence (using excitation sources at 1680 nm and 1064 nm, respectively). 3PM enabled deeper imaging than 2PM because the use of longer excitation wavelength reduces the scattering in biological tissue and the higher order nonlinear excitation provides better 3D localization. To illustrate these two advantages quantitatively, we measured the signal decay as well as the signal-to-background ratio (SBR) as a function of depth. We performed 2-photon imaging from the brain surface all the way down to the area where the SBR reaches ~ 1, while at the same depth, 3PM still has SBR above 30. The segmented decay curve shows that the mouse cerebellum has different effective attenuation lengths at different depths, indicating heterogeneous tissue property for this brain region. We compared the third harmonic generation (THG) signal, which is used to visualize myelinated fibers, with the decay curve. We found that the regions with shorter effective attenuation lengths correspond to the regions with more fibers. Our results indicate that the widespread, non-uniformly distributed myelinated fibers adds heterogeneity to mouse cerebellum, which poses additional challenges in deep imaging of this brain region.
We demonstrate a robust, all-fiber, two-wavelength time-lens source for background-free coherent anti-Stokes Raman scattering (CARS) imaging. The time-lens source generates two picosecond pulse trains simultaneously: one at 1064 nm and the other tunable between 1040 nm and 1075 nm (~ 400 mW for each wavelength). When synchronized to a modelocked Ti:Sa laser, the two wavelengths are used to obtain on- and off-resonance CARS images. Real-time subtraction of the nonresonant background in the CARS image is achieved by the synchronization of the pixel clock and the time-lens source. Background-free CARS imaging of sebaceous glands in ex vivo mouse tissue is demonstrated.