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Imaging deep within a scattering medium using collective accumulation of single-scattered waves


Optical microscopy suffers from a loss of resolving power when imaging targets are embedded in thick scattering media because of the dominance of strong multiple-scattered waves over waves scattered only a single time by the targets. Here, we present an approach that maintains full optical resolution when imaging deep within scattering media. We use both time-gated detection and spatial input–output correlation to identify those reflected waves that conserve in-plane momentum, which is a property of single-scattered waves. By implementing a superradiance-like collective accumulation of the single-scattered waves, we enhance the ratio of the single scattering signal to the multiple scattering background by more than three orders of magnitude. An imaging depth of 11.5 times the scattering mean free path is achieved with a near-diffraction-limited resolution of 1.5 μm. Our method of distinguishing single- from multiple-scattered waves will open new routes to deep-tissue imaging and studying the physics of the interaction of light with complex media.

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Figure 1: Schematic diagram for the collective enhancement of single-scattered waves.
Figure 2: Experimental schematic diagram of the CASS microscope.
Figure 3: Demonstration of near diffraction-limited imaging in a thick scattering medium.
Figure 4: Performance of single-scattering enhancement depending on the number of incidence angles, Ntot.
Figure 5: CASS imaging of 2-μm-diameter beads embedded in thick rat brain tissue.
Figure 6: Measurement and construction of the time-gated reflection matrix.


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This research was supported by the IT R&D Program (R2013080003), the Global Frontier Program (2014M3A6B3063710), IBS-R023-D1-2015-a00, the Basic Science Research Program (2013R1A1A2062560) and the Nano-Material Technology Development Program (2011-0020205) through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Science, ICT & Future Planning. It was also supported by the Korea Health Technology R&D Project (HI14C0748) funded by the Ministry of Health & Welfare, Republic of Korea. The authors thank C. Fang-Yen for discussions.

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Authors and Affiliations



W.C., S.K. and S.J. conceived the experiment. S.K. and S.J. carried out the measurements and analysed the data with W.C. W.C.* and Q.P. performed the theoretical study and supported interpretation of the data. Y.L. assisted in the design of the optical set-up. H.K. prepared scattering layers. T.Y. prepared biological tissues. J.J. and J.L. provided gold-coated silica beads. S.K., S.J. and W.C. prepared the manuscript. All authors contributed to finalizing the manuscript. W.C. and W.C.* refer to Wonshik Choi and Wonjun Choi, respectively.

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Correspondence to Wonshik Choi.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Kang, S., Jeong, S., Choi, W. et al. Imaging deep within a scattering medium using collective accumulation of single-scattered waves. Nature Photon 9, 253–258 (2015).

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