Optical Detection of Ultrasound in Photoacoustic Imaging

Biqin Dong, Cheng Sun, Hao Zhang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

109 Scopus citations


Objective: Photoacoustic (PA) imaging emerges as a unique tool to study biological samples based on optical absorption contrast. In PA imaging, piezoelectric transducers are commonly used to detect laser-induced ultrasonic waves. However, they typically lack adequate broadband sensitivity at ultrasonic frequency higher than 100 MHz, whereas their bulky size and optically opaque nature cause technical difficulties in integrating PA imaging with conventional optical imaging modalities. To overcome these limitations, optical methods of ultrasound detection were developed and shown their unique applications in PA imaging. Methods: We provide an overview of recent technological advances in optical methods of ultrasound detection and their applications in PA imaging. A general theoretical framework describing sensitivity, bandwidth, and angular responses of optical ultrasound detection is also introduced. Results: Optical methods of ultrasound detection can provide improved detection angle and sensitivity over significantly extended bandwidth. In addition, its versatile variants also offer additional advantages, such as device miniaturization, optical transparency, mechanical flexibility, minimal electrical/mechanical crosstalk, and potential noncontact PA imaging. Conclusion: The optical ultrasound detection methods discussed in this review and their future evolution may play an important role in PA imaging for biomedical study and clinical diagnosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number7558159
Pages (from-to)4-15
Number of pages12
JournalIEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2017


  • Acoustic measurements
  • interferometry
  • optical resonators
  • optical sensors
  • photoacoustic (PA) imaging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering


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