Photoacoustic microscopy (PAM) is a new imaging technique that employs laser light to induce ultrasonic vibrations in tissue. It can detect cancerous tissue, image-changing blood flow in the brain, and even identify individual cancer cells. Because of its narrow depth of field, PAM can only focus on a thin layer of tissue at a time.
A new paper describes how researchers created a new variant of PAM called needle-shaped beam photoacoustic microscopy, or NB-PAM, with a depth of field nearly 14 times greater than what was previously possible. NB-PAM can create 3D imagery of samples without refocusing and image samples with uneven surfaces more effectively.
The new NB-PAM technology employs a longer, thinner laser light beam, hence the “needle” shape. This change in the optical properties of the beam avoids some of the drawbacks associated with other PAM technology attempts to increase the depth of field.
The researchers demonstrated this greater depth of field in two ways: imaging fresh organ samples with an ultraviolet laser and imaging in vivo mouse brain vasculature with a blue laser.
This technology opens up new possibilities for studying tissue samples obtained during surgery, allowing for the complete removal of cancer cells while preserving as many normal cells as possible.
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