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High-speed optical coherence tomography by circular interferometric ranging

Nature Photonicsvolume 12pages111116 (2018) | Download Citation


Existing three-dimensional optical imaging methods excel in controlled environments, but are difficult to deploy over large, irregular and dynamic fields. This means that they can be ill-suited for use in areas such as material inspection and medicine. To better address these applications, we developed methods in optical coherence tomography to efficiently interrogate sparse scattering fields, that is, those in which most locations (voxels) do not generate meaningful signal. Frequency comb sources are used to superimpose reflected signals from equispaced locations through optical subsampling. This results in circular ranging, and reduces the number of measurements required to interrogate large volumetric fields. As a result, signal acquisition barriers that have limited speed and field in optical coherence tomography are avoided. With a new ultrafast, time-stretched frequency comb laser design operating with 7.6 MHz to 18.9 MHz repetition rates, we achieved imaging of multi-cm3 fields at up to 7.5 volumes per second.

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This research was sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants R01CA163528, P41EB015903 and DOD/AFOSR FA9550-11-1-0331, Harvard Medical School Bullock Post-Doctoral Fellowship, and the National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowships Program (11-031). Additional financial support provided by Alcon. The authors thank I. Chico-Calero for performing animal surgeries and M. Villiger for providing the spectral binning PS-OCT base code.

Author information

Author notes

    • Serhat Tozburun

    Present address: Izmir International Biomedicine and Genome Institute, Dokuz Eylul University, Balcova, Izmir, Turkey


  1. Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA

    • Meena Siddiqui
    • , Serhat Tozburun
    • , Norman Lippok
    • , Cedric Blatter
    •  & Benjamin J. Vakoc
  2. Wellman Center for Photomedicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA, USA

    • Meena Siddiqui
    • , Ahhyun S. Nam
    • , Serhat Tozburun
    • , Norman Lippok
    • , Cedric Blatter
    •  & Benjamin J. Vakoc
  3. Harvard-MIT Health Sciences & Technology (HST), Cambridge, MA, USA

    • Meena Siddiqui
    •  & Benjamin J. Vakoc
  4. Department of Mechanical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, MA, USA

    • Ahhyun S. Nam


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M.S. built the system, planned and executed experiments, performed image processing, and prepared the manuscript. A.S.N. contributed to polarization-sensitive signal processing. S.T. contributed to building the system. N.L. executed experiments and contributed to image processing. C.B. was involved in developing the system software. B.J.V. obtained support, managed the project and participated in manuscript preparation.

Competing interests

The authors are inventors on intellectual property owned by the Massachusetts General Hospital.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Benjamin J. Vakoc.

Supplementary information

  1. Supplementary Information

    Supplementary methods and results including detailed captions for each Supplementary Video.


  1. Supplementary Video 1

    A fly-through in the en face orientation from a three-dimensional dataset. This fly-through shows the superposition of multiple depth/delay planes in each measured depth/delay.

  2. Supplementary Video 2

    A wide-field video acquisition of ex vivo porcine colon.

  3. Supplementary Video 3

    A wide-field video acquisition of exposed rat sciatic nerve using structural and polarization-sensitive contrast.

  4. Supplementary Video 4

    A video acquired during dynamic manipulation of the sciatic nerve highlights applications in intraoperative guidance.

  5. Supplementary Video 5

    A fly-through of the three-dimensional dataset used to generate a single frame within Supplementary Video 4.

  6. Supplementary Video 6

    A video acquisition highlighting quantitative changes in imaged birefringence of an ex vivo mouse sciatic nerve in response to a crush injury.

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