Time-reversed ultrasonically encoded optical focusing into scattering media

Nat Photonics. 2011 Mar;5(3):154. doi: 10.1038/nphoton.2010.306.


Light focusing plays a central role in biomedical imaging, manipulation, and therapy. In scattering media, direct light focusing becomes infeasible beyond one transport mean free path. All previous methods1-3 to overcome this diffusion limit lack a practical internal "guide star."4 Here we proposed and experimentally validated a novel concept, called Time-Reversed Ultrasonically Encoded (TRUE) optical focusing, to deliver light into any dynamically defined location inside a scattering medium. First, diffused coherent light is encoded by a focused ultrasonic wave to provide a virtual internal "guide star"; then, only the encoded light is time-reversed and transmitted back to the ultrasonic focus. The TRUE optical focus-defined by the ultrasonic wave-is unaffected by multiple scattering of light. Such focusing is especially desirable in biological tissue where ultrasonic scattering is ~1000 times weaker than optical scattering. Various fields including biomedical and colloidal optics can benefit from TRUE optical focusing.