Among the numerous endogenous biological molecules, information on lipids is highly coveted for understanding both aspects of developmental biology and research in fatal chronic diseases. Due to the pronounced absorption features of lipids in the extended near-infrared region (1650−1850 nm), visualisation and identification of lipids become possible using multi-spectral photoacoustic (optoacoustic) microscopy. However, the spectroscopic studies in this spectral region require lasers that can produce high pulse energies over a broad spectral bandwidth to efficiently excite strong photoacoustic signals. The most well-known laser sources capable of satisfying the multi-spectral photoacoustic microscopy requirements (tunability and pulse energy) are tunable nanosecond optical parametric oscillators. However, these lasers have an inherently large footprint, thus preventing their use in compact microscopy systems. Besides, they exhibit low-repetition rates. Here, we demonstrate a compact all-fibre, high pulse energy supercontinuum laser that covers a spectral range from 1440 to 1870 nm with a 7 ns pulse duration and total energy of 18.3 μJ at a repetition rate of 100 kHz. Using the developed high-pulse energy source, we perform multi-spectral photoacoustic microscopy imaging of lipids, both ex vivo on adipose tissue and in vivo to study the development of Xenopus laevis tadpoles, using six different excitation bands over the first overtone transition of C–H vibration bonds (1650−1850 nm).
- Photoacoustic microscopy
- Fibre lasers