We report a new type of all-optical ultrafast laser-scanning microscopy( (at a line-scan rate of 20 MHz) based on a phenomenon called free-space angular-chirp-enhanced delay (FACED). It results in the generation of a reconfigurable array of spatiotemporally encoded virtual pulsed sources, which acts as a scanning laser beam. We demonstrate its application in high-throughput multivariate image-based single-cell analysis (10,000 cells/sec).
Optical time-stretch microscopy enables cellular images captured at tens of MHz line-scan rate and becomes a potential tool for ultrafast dynamics monitoring and high throughput screening in scientific and biomedical applications. In time-stretch microscopy, to achieve the fast line-scan rate, optical fibers are used as the pulse-stretching device that maps the spectrum of a light pulse to a temporal waveform for fast digitization. Consequently, existing time-stretch microscopy is limited to work at telecom windows (e.g. 1550 nm) where optical fiber has significant pulse-stretching and small loss. This limitation circumscribes the potential application of time-stretch microscopy.
Here we present a new optical time-stretch imaging modality by exploiting a novel pulse-stretching technique, free-space angular-chirp-enhanced delay (FACED), which has three benefits: (1) Pulse-stretching in FACED generates substantial, reconfigurable temporal dispersion in free-space with low intrinsic loss at visible wavelengths; (2) Pulse-stretching in FACED inherently provides an ultrafast all-optical laser-beam scanning mechanism for time-stretch imaging. (3) Pulse-stretching in FACED can be wavelength-invariant, which enables time-stretch microscopy implemented without spectral-encoding.
Using FACED, we demonstrate optical time-stretch microscopy with visible light (~700 nm). Compared to the prior work, bright-field time-stretch images captured show superior contrast and resolution, and can be effectively colorized to generate color time-stretch images. More prominently, accessing the visible spectrum regime, we demonstrate that FACED enables ultrafast fluorescence time-stretch microscopy. Our results suggest FACED could unleash a wider scope of applications that were once forbidden with the fiber based time-stretch imaging techniques.
We demonstrate ultrafast time-stretch microscopy in, to the best of our knowledge, the shortest wavelength regimes, i.e. 532 nm. This is enabled by a new all-optical ultrahigh-speed laser-scanning technique called free-space angular-chirpenhanced delay (FACED) that achieves a line-scan rate as high as 20 MHz. In contrast to the predominant fiber-based implementation, time-stretch imaging based on FACED allows wavelength-independent and low-loss operations, and more intriguingly reconfigurable all-optical laser-scanning rate. Using this technique, we present high-resolution single-cell images captured in an ultrafast microfluidic flow (1.5m/s). This could unleash numerous cell and tissue imaging applications, e.g. high-throughput image flow cytometry and whole-slide imaging.