Coherent thermal wave imaging of subsurface chromophores in biological materials

Sergey A. Telenkov, Gracie Vargas, J. Stuart Nelson, Thomas E. Milner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Thermal wave imaging of discrete subsurface chromophores in biological materials is reported using a phase sensitive coherent detection technique applied to recorded infrared (IR) images. We demonstrate that utilization of a periodically modulated laser source for thermal wave excitation and coherent detection applied to each pixel may be used to compute images of thermal wave amplitude and phase at the laser modulation frequency. In comparison to recorded IR images, the narrow-band detection technique significantly improves the quality of thermal wave amplitude images of subsurface chromophores in biological materials. Additionally, the technique provides phase information, which may be used to estimate chromophore depth in tissue. Application of the technique is demonstrated using tissue phantoms and in vivo biological models. We present a theoretical analysis and computer simulations that demonstrate the effect of tissue optical and thermal properties on thermal wave amplitude and phase. In comparison to the pulsed photothermal technique, coherent thermal wave imaging of subsurface chromophores in tissue for diagnostic applications allows reduction of peak incident laser fluence by as much as four orders of magnitude and is safer and more amenable to in vivo imaging.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)657-671
Number of pages15
JournalPhysics in Medicine and Biology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 21 2002
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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