Significance: The large background, narrow dynamic range, and detector saturation have been the common limiting factors in stimulated emission (SE)-based pump-probe microscopy, attributed to the very small signal overriding the very intense laser probe beam. To better differentiate the signal of interest from the background, lock-in detection is used to measure the fluorescence quenching, which is termed spontaneous loss (SL). The advantages are manifold. The spontaneous fluorescence signal can be well separated from both the pump and the probe beams with filters, thus eliminating the background, enlarging the dynamic range, and avoiding the saturation of the detector.
Aim: We propose and demonstrate an integrated pump-probe microscopy technique based on lock-in detection for background removal and dynamic range enhancement through SL detection.
Approach: The experimental setup is configured with a pulsed diode laser at a wavelength λpu = 635 nm, acting as a pump (excitation) and a mode-locked Ti:sapphire laser at a central wavelength λpr = 780 nm, serving as the probe beam (stimulation). Both pulse trains are temporally synchronized through high precision delay control by adjusting the length of the triggering cables. The pump and probe beams are alternatively modulated at different frequencies f1 and f2 to extract the stimulated gain (SG) and SL signal.
Results: SG signal shows saturation due to the irradiation of the intense probe beam onto the photodetector. However, the detector saturation does not occur at high probe beam power for SL detection. The fluorescence lifetime images are acquired with reduced background. The theoretical signal-to-noise ratios for SG and SL are also estimated by photon statistics.
Conclusion: We have confirmed that the detection of SL allows the elimination of the large background without photodetector saturation, which commonly exists in SG configuration. This modality would allow unprecedented manipulation and investigation of fluorophores in fluorescence imaging.
Knowledge of optical properties (absorption coefficients, scattering Coefficients, and anisotropy) is necessary for understanding light tissue interactions. Optical parameters define the behavior of light in the tissues. Intralipid and Indian ink are well-established tissue body phantoms. Quantitative characterization of biological tissues in terms of optical properties is achieved with integrating sphere. However, samples having significantly higher scattering and absorption coefficients such as malignant tissues potentially reduce the signal to noise ratio (SNR) and accuracy of integrating sphere. We have measured the diffuse reflection and transmission of these phantoms by placing them in integrating sphere at 632.8 nm and then applied IAD method to determine the optical properties tissue phantoms composed of Indian ink (1.0%) and Intralipid (20%). We have fabricated a special sample holder with thin microscopic cover slips which can be used to measure signal from highly concentrated intralipid and Indian ink solutions. Experiments conducted with various phantoms reveal significant improvement of SNR for a wide range of optical properties. This approach opens up a field for potential applications in measurement of optical properties of highly diffusive biological tissues. For 20% intralipid μa =0.112±0.046 cm<sup>-1</sup> and μs =392.299±10.090 cm<sup>-1</sup> at 632.8 nm and for 1.0% Indian ink μa =9.808±0.490 cm<sup>-1</sup> and μs =1.258±0.063 cm<sup>-1</sup> at same wavelength. System shows good repeatability and reproducibility within 4.9% error. Work may have important biomedical applications in photo-diagnosis and Photodynamic therapy.