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Published June 2014 | Published
Journal Article Open

Sensitivity of photoacoustic microscopy


Building on its high spatial resolution, deep penetration depth and excellent image contrast, 3D photoacoustic microscopy (PAM) has grown tremendously since its first publication in 2005. Integrating optical excitation and acoustic detection, PAM has broken through both the optical diffusion and optical diffraction limits. PAM has 100% relative sensitivity to optical absorption (i.e., a given percentage change in the optical absorption coefficient yields the same percentage change in the photoacoustic amplitude), and its ultimate detection sensitivity is limited only by thermal noise. Focusing on the engineering aspects of PAM, this Review discusses the detection sensitivity of PAM, compares the detection efficiency of different PAM designs, and summarizes the imaging performance of various endogenous and exogenous contrast agents. It then describes representative PAM applications with high detection sensitivity, and outlines paths to further improvement.

Additional Information

© 2014 The Authors. Published by Elsevier GmbH. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-SA license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/). Received 5 March 2014; Accepted 12 April 2014; Available online 24 April 2014. The authors appreciate Prof. James Ballard's close reading of the manuscript. We thank Lidai Wang and Konstantin Maslov for helpful discussions. This work was sponsored by NIH grants DP1 EB016986 (NIH Director's Pioneer Award), R01 CA186567 (NIH Director's Transformative Research Award), R01 EB016963, R01 CA134539, R01 EB010049, R01 CA157277, and R01 CA159959. L. V. Wang has a financial interest in Endra, Inc., and Microphotoacoustics, Inc., which, however, did not support this work. The authors declare that there are no conflicts of interest.

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