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Published June 2021 | Published
Journal Article Open

Perspective on fast-evolving photoacoustic tomography


Significance: Acoustically detecting the rich optical absorption contrast in biological tissues, photoacoustic tomography (PAT) seamlessly bridges the functional and molecular sensitivity of optical excitation with the deep penetration and high scalability of ultrasound detection. As a result of continuous technological innovations and commercial development, PAT has been playing an increasingly important role in life sciences and patient care, including functional brain imaging, smart drug delivery, early cancer diagnosis, and interventional therapy guidance. Aim: Built on our 2016 tutorial article that focused on the principles and implementations of PAT, this perspective aims to provide an update on the exciting technical advances in PAT. Approach: This perspective focuses on the recent PAT innovations in volumetric deep-tissue imaging, high-speed wide-field microscopic imaging, high-sensitivity optical ultrasound detection, and machine-learning enhanced image reconstruction and data processing. Representative applications are introduced to demonstrate these enabling technical breakthroughs in biomedical research. Conclusions: We conclude the perspective by discussing the future development of PAT technologies.

Additional Information

© 2021 The Authors. Published by SPIE under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Unported License. Distribution or reproduction of this work in whole or in part requires full attribution of the original publication, including its DOI. Paper 210105-PERR received Apr. 5, 2021; accepted for publication Jun. 17, 2021; published online Jun. 30, 2021. We thank Dr. Caroline Connor for editing the manuscript and Drs. Li Lin and Xiaoyi Zhu for preparing the figures. This work was sponsored by the United States National Institutes of Health (NIH) under Grant Nos. R35 CA220436 (Outstanding Investigator Award), U01 NS099717 (BRAIN Initiative), U01 EB029823 (BRAIN Initiative), and R01 EB028277 (to L.V.W), as well as NIH Grant Nos. R01 EB028143, R01 NS111039, RF1 NS115581 (BRAIN Initiative), R21 EB027304, and R21EB027981; Duke Institute of Brain Science Incubator Award; American Heart Association Collaborative Sciences Award (18CSA34080277); and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative under Grant No. 2020-226178 (to J.Y). The authors have no financial conflicts of interest to disclose related to the content of this article. L.V.W. has a financial interest in Microphotoacoustics, Inc., Cal-PACT, LLC, and Union Photoacoustic Technologies, Ltd., none of which supported this work.

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August 22, 2023
October 23, 2023