Photoacoustic computed tomography (PACT) holds great promise for biomedical imaging, but wide-spread implementation is impeded by the bulkiness of flash-lamp-pumped laser systems, which typically weigh between 50 - 200 kg, require continuous water cooling, and operate at a low repetition rate. Here, we demonstrate that compact lasers based on emerging diode technologies are well-suited for preclinical and clinical PACT. The diode-pumped laser used in this study had a miniature footprint (13 × 14 × 7 cm3), weighed only 1.6 kg, and outputted up to 80 mJ per pulse at 1064 nm. In vitro, the laser system readily provided over 4 cm PACT depth in chicken breast tissue. In vivo, in addition to high resolution, non-invasive brain imaging in living mice, the system can operate at 50 Hz, which enabled high-speed cross-sectional imaging of murine cardiac and respiratory function. The system also provided high quality, high-frame rate, and non-invasive three-dimensional mapping of arm, palm, and breast vasculature at multi centimeter depths in living human subjects, demonstrating the clinical viability of compact lasers for PACT.
Keywords: (110.0110) Imaging systems; (110.5120) Photoacoustic imaging; (140.0140) Lasers and laser optics.