High power visible light emitting diodes as pulsed excitation sources for biomedical photoacoustics
To many researchers in the field of photoacoustics, light sources are the bottleneck for this imaging modality. The bulky optical parametric oscillators normally used in photoacoustic tomography systems require not only a huge initial investment, but also constant maintenance work to keep them running. This is a hurdle to the translational application of photoacoustics into clinics. Exploration of new alternative light sources for photoacoustic imaging such as laser diodes and fiber lasers has attracted attention in the community in the past few years, but each new type of source has its own issues in practical uses. This Biomedical Optics Express article by Allen and Beard discusses the use of LEDs in photoacoustics and the results are encouraging. Not only did the authors demonstrate well the experimental setups in which the LEDs’ usability is tested in photoacoustic imaging, they also showed reconstruction and post-processing methods that can improve the SNR and image quality. Although LEDs may not be able to replace the sources for deep tissue imaging, the authors’ work proves the potential of LEDs being a cost-effective, compact alternative in the selection of photoacoustic excitation light sources.