Time-correlated single-photon counting fluorescence lifetime confocal imaging of decayed and sound dental structures with a white-light supercontinuum source
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We report the demonstration of time-correlated single-photon counting (TCSPC) fluorescence lifetime imaging (FLIM) to ex vivo decayed and healthy dentinal tooth structures, using a white-light supercontinuum excitation source. By using a 100 fs-pulsed Ti:Sapphire laser with a low-frequency chirp to pump a 30-cm long section of photonic crystal fibre, a ps-pulsed white-light supercontinuum was created. Optical bandpass interference filters were then applied to this broad-bandwidth source to select the 488-nm excitation wavelength required to perform TCSPC FLIM of dental structures. Decayed dentine showed significantly shorter lifetimes, discriminating it from healthy tissue and hard, stained and thus affected but non-infected material. The white-light generation source provides a flexible method of producing variable-bandwidth visible and ps-pulsed light for TCSPC FLIM. The results from the dental tissue indicate a potential method of discriminating diseased tissue from sound, but stained tissue, which could be of crucial importance in limiting tissue resection during preparation for clinical restorations.
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