Mid-infrared (MIR) microscopy provides rich chemical and structural information about biological samples, without staining. Conventionally, the long MIR wavelength severely limits the lateral resolution owing to optical diffraction; moreover, the strong MIR absorption of water ubiquitous in fresh biological samples results in high background and low contrast. To overcome these limitations, we propose a method that employs photoacoustic detection highly localized with a pulsed ultraviolet laser on the basis of the Grüneisen relaxation effect. For cultured cells, our method achieves water-background suppressed MIR imaging of lipids and proteins at ultraviolet resolution, at least an order of magnitude finer than the MIR diffraction limits. Label-free histology using this method is also demonstrated in thick brain slices. Our approach provides convenient high-resolution and high-contrast MIR imaging, which can benefit the diagnosis of fresh biological samples.
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The data that support the plots within this paper and other findings of this study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.
The code that supports the plots within this paper and other findings of this study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.
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The authors thank M. Pleitez and T. Imai for helping with the system set-up and discussion, J. Ballard for editing of the manuscript and K. Briggman for helpful discussions. Certain commercial equipment, instruments and materials are identified in this paper to specify the experimental procedure adequately; this is not intended to imply recommendation or endorsement by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, nor is it intended to imply that the materials or equipment identified are necessarily the best available for the purpose. This work was sponsored by National Institutes of Health grants DP1 EB016986 (NIH Director’s Pioneer Award), R01 CA186567 (NIH Director’s Transformative Research Award), U01 NS090579 (NIH BRAIN Initiative) and U01 NS099717 (NIH BRAIN Initiative).
L.V.W. and K.M. have financial interests in Microphotoacoustics, Inc., CalPACT, LLC and Union Photoacoustic Technologies, Ltd, which did not support this work.
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Shi, J., Wong, T.T.W., He, Y. et al. High-resolution, high-contrast mid-infrared imaging of fresh biological samples with ultraviolet-localized photoacoustic microscopy. Nat. Photonics 13, 609–615 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41566-019-0441-3
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