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The Photoacoustic and Ultrasound Lab (PUL) focuses on developing new imaging techniques for better clinical diagnosis, treatment monitoring, and image guided interventions. Projects at the lab span two major areas, functionalphotoacoustic imaging and opto-acoustic transducer technology for high frequency ultrasound applications.
The field of functional photoacoustic imaging has been rapidly developing in recent years. The combination of optical excitation and acoustic readout of the resulting information breaks the limits of both optical techniques and acoustic techniques, and opens up new possibilities in clinical functional imaging. These researchers are particularly interested in exploringphotoacoustic imaging of transient optical properties for the development of imaging of metabolic functions and activatable imaging probes.
Opto-acoustic transducer technology is a term used to describe optical devices that generate and detect ultrasound. As opposed to conventional ultrasound technology where electric voltage signals are converted to ultrasound signals and vice versa, in opto-acoustic devices laser pulses are used to generate ultrasonic pulses and sensitive optical resonators detect ultrasonic waves and convert them into optical signals. The researchers focus on developing opticalmicromachined ultrasound transducers (OMUTs) that utilize advanced methods of micro- and nano-fabrication to construct arrays of opto-acoustic transducers. OMUT arrays are particularly advantageous for imaging probes that require small element size (smaller than 0.1 mm) and wide bandwidth (up to 100 MHz). Numerical modeling is used in various aspects of the research. Light propagation in biological tissue is modeled by Monte-Carlo methods. Eigen-mode expansion method is employed for calculating optical resonance in micro-structures. Finite elements methods are used in modeling the interaction of stress and optical field for optimizing design of OMUT devices.