Photoacoustic imaging is a non-invasive modality that exploits the absorption-based contrast of optical imaging and high-resolution and deep wave propagation achievable with ultrasound.   Potential clinical applications of this modality are widespread and include characterization of cancerous tumours and diseased blood vessels.  In the Physical Acoustics Lab, we use an all-optical system to obtain broadband photoacoustic and laser-ultrasound images with a single setup.  The photoacoustic image provides information about optical absorbers in tissue, such as lipids or hemoglobin; while laser-ultrasound is sensitive to acoustic scatterers like calcification.

Our research spans a wide range within photoacoustic imaging.  First, we apply both known and novel methods of data acquisition and image reconstruction with roots in geophysics to improve the resolution and clarity of images.  This is particularly relevant for imaging deep within inhomogeneous tissue, where scattering of acoustic waves can significantly limit quality.    We are also developing non-contact acoustic detectors to expand potential clinical applications for photoacoustic imaging.

Photoacoustic generation and propagation (left) and laser-ultrasound generation and scattering (right).

Photoacoustic image (red) and laser-ultrasonic image (grey scale) of diseased artery. Layers of the artery wall (1-3) as well as calcification (4) are identified with arrows. A photoacoustic reflection artifact is denoted by a white arrow.

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