We present Terahertz Pulse Imaging (TPI) results of different human tissue types. Our results are part of an initial study to explore the potential of TPI for biomedical applications. A survey of different tissue types has demonstrated the various contrast mechanisms that are available in TPI, allowing different tissue types to be readily identified. This encourages the pursuit of further studies of TPI for a variety of biomedical applications.
An imaging system has been developed based on pulses of Terahertz (THz) radiation generated and detected using all- optical effects accessed by irradiating semiconductors with ultrafast pulses of visible laser light. This technique, commonly referred to as T-Ray Imaging or THz Pulse Imaging (TPI), holds enormous promise for certain aspects of medical imaging. We have conducted an initial survey of possible medical applications of TPI and demonstrated that TPI images show good contrast between different animal tissue types. Moreover, the diagnostic power of TPI has been elicidated by the spectra available at each pixel in the image, which are markedly different for the different tissue types. This suggests that the spectral information inherent in TPI might be used to identify the type of soft and hard tissue at each pixel in an image and provide other diagnostic information not afforded by conventional imagin techniques. Preliminary TPI studies of pork skin show that 3D tomographic imaging of the skin surface and thickness is possible, and data from experiments on models of the human dermis are presented which demonstrate that different constituents of skin have different refractive indices. Lastly, we present the first THz image of human tissue, namely an extracted tooth. The time of flight of THz pulses through the tooth allows the thickness of the enamel to be determined, and is used to create an image showing the enamel and dentine regions. Absorption of THz pulses in the tooth allows the pulp cavity region to be identified. Initial evidence strongly suggests that TPI my be used to provide valuable diagnostic information pertaining to the enamel, dentine, and the pump cavity.