Analog time-reversed ultrasonically encoded (TRUE) optical focusing inside scattering media with high power gain
Focusing light deep inside scattering media plays a key role in such biomedical applications as high resolution optical imaging, control, and therapy. In recent years, wavefront shaping technologies have come a long way in controlling light propagation in complex media. A prominent example is time-reversed ultrasonically encoded (TRUE) focusing, which allows noninvasive introduction of "guide stars" inside biological tissue to guide light focusing. By measuring the optical wavefront emanating from an ultrasound focus created at the target location, TRUE determines the desired wavefront non-iteratively, and achieves focusing at the target position via a subsequent optical time reversal. Compared to digital counterparts that employ slow electronic spatial light modulators and cameras, analog TRUE focusing relies on nonlinear photorefractive crystals that inherently accommodate more spatial modes and eliminate the troublesome alignment and data transfer required by digital approaches. However, analog TRUE focusing suffers from its small gain, defined as the energy or power ratio between the focusing and probing beams in the focal volume. Here, by implementing a modified analog TRUE focusing scheme that squeezes the duration of the time-reversed photon packet below the carrier-recombination-limited hologram decay time of the crystal, we demonstrated a photon flux amplification much greater than unity at a preset focal voxel in between two scattering layers. Although the energy gain was still below unity, the unprecedented power gain will nevertheless benefit new biomedical applications.