PHOTOREFRACTIVE CRYSTAL-BASED ACOUSTO-OPTIC IMAGING IN THE NEAR-INFRARED AND ITS APPLICATIONS
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Acousto-optic (AO) sensing and imaging (AOI) is a dual-wave modality that combines ultrasound with diffusive light to measure and/or image the optical properties of optically diffusive media, including biological tissues such as breast and brain. The light passing through a focused ultrasound beam undergoes a phase modulation at the ultrasound frequency that is detected using an adaptive interferometer scheme employing a GaAs photorefractive crystal (PRC). The PRC-based AO system operating at 1064 nm is described, along with the underlying theory, validating experiments, characterization, and optimization of this sensing and imaging apparatus. The spatial resolution of AO sensing, which is determined by spatial dimensions of the ultrasound beam or pulse, can be sub-millimeter for megahertz-frequency sound waves.A modified approach for quantifying the optical properties of diffuse media with AO sensing employs the ratio of AO signals generated at two different ultrasound focal pressures. The resulting “pressure contrast signal” (PCS), once calibrated for a particular set of pressure pulses, yields a direct measure of the spatially averaged optical transport attenuation coefficient within the interaction volume between light and sound. This is a significant improvement over current AO sensing methods since it produces a quantitative measure of the optical properties of optically diffuse media without a priori knowledge of the background illumination. It can also be used to generate images based on spatial variations in both optical scattering and absorption. Finally, the AO sensing system is modified to monitor the irreversible optical changes associated with the tissue heating from high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) therapy, providing a powerful method for noninvasively sensing the onset and growth of thermal lesions in soft tissues. A single HIFU transducer is used to simultaneously generate tissue damage and pump the AO interaction. Experimental results performed in excised chicken breast demonstrate that AO sensing can identify the onset and growth of lesion formation in real time and, when used as feedback to guide exposure parameters, results in more predictable lesion formation.