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Opt Express. 2010 Apr 12;18(8):8605-20. doi: 10.1364/OE.18.008605.

Ultra-fast photoacoustic flow cytometry with a 0.5 MHz pulse repetition rate nanosecond laser.

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Phillips Classic Laser and Nanomedicine Laboratories, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, 4301 W. Markham St., Little Rock, AR, 72205, USA.


In vivo photoacoustic (PA) flow cytometry (PAFC) has great potential for detecting disease-associated biomarkers in blood and lymph flow, as well as real-time control of the efficacy of photothermal (PT) and other therapies through the counting of circulating abnormal objects. We report on a high speed PAFC with a Yb-doped fiber laser having a 0.5-MHz pulse repetition rate at a wavelength of 1064 nm, pulse width of 10 ns, and energy up to 100 microJ. This is the first biomedical application of PA and PT techniques operating at the highest pulse repetition rate of nanosecond lasers that provide 100-fold enhancement in detection speed of carbon nanotube clusters, as well as real-time monitoring of the flow velocity of individual targets through the width of PA signals. The laser pulse rate limits for PT and PA techniques depending on the sizes of laser beam and targets and flow velocity are discussed. We propose time-overlapping mode and generation of periodic nano- and microbubbles as PA-signal and PT-therapy amplifiers, including discrimination of small absorbing targets among large ones. Taking into account the relatively low level of background signals from most biotissues at 1064 nm, our data suggest that a nanosecond Yb-doped fiber laser operating at high pulse repetition rate could be a promising optical source for time-resolved PA and PT cytometry, imaging, microscopy, and therapy, including detection of nanoparticles and cells flowing at velocities up to 2.5 m/s.

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