High Sensitivity Optical Coherence Tomography
Background: Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is a non-invasive sub-surface optical imaging modality with high axial resolution and high signal to noise ratio compared to other imaging modalities such as ultrasound and MRI. Depending on the tissue's scattering and absorption, usually the imaging depth can be 1-2mm sub-surface in turbid tissue. A high sensitivity OCT system is desirable for better imaging depth and more imaging details. Technology: University of CA Researchers have developed a method and apparatus for an OCT system that can suppress optical beat noise between the reference arm signal and unwanted back reflected sample arm signal or light from other sources with the same frequency range. With the improved balanced detection method described in this invention, the intensity noise of an OCT system can be cancelled. After cancellation, the beat noise will become the limiting factor for high sensitivity. By reducing or suppressing beat noise in an OCT system, the system can be kept in a short noise limited state although higher optical power is used in the system. When the sample exposure volume is limited due to laser safety consideration, an optical amplifier can be used to amplify the weak sample signal as long as the beat noise between the spontaneous emission light and reference light can be effectively suppressed. Thus, a high sensitivity OCT system with deeper imaging depth and finer details in the image can be attained.
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