Hyperspectral fluorescence lifetime imaging for optical biopsy
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A hyperspectral fluorescence lifetime imaging (FLIM) instrument is developed to study endogenous fluorophores in biological tissue as an optical biopsy tool. This instrument is able to spectrally, temporally, and spatially resolve fluorescence signal, thus providing multidimensional information to assist clinical tissue diagnosis. An acousto-optic tunable filter (AOTF) is used to realize rapid wavelength switch, and a photomultiplier tube and a high-speed digitizer are used to collect the time-resolved fluorescence decay at each wavelength in real time. The performance of this instrument has been characterized and validated on fluorescence tissue phantoms and fresh porcine skin specimens. This dual-arm AOTF design achieves high spectral throughput while allowing microsecond nonsequential, random wavelength switching, which is highly desirable for time-critical applications. In the results reported here, a motorized scanning stage is used to realize spatial scanning for two-dimensional images, while a rapid beam steering technique is feasible and being developed in an ongoing project.
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