Rapid Cellular-Resolution Skin Imaging with Optical Coherence Tomography Using All-Glass Multifocal Metasurfaces

ACS Nano. 2023 Feb 28;17(4):3442-3451. doi: 10.1021/acsnano.2c09542. Epub 2023 Feb 6.


Cellular-resolution optical coherence tomography (OCT) is a powerful tool offering noninvasive histology-like imaging. However, like other optical microscopy tools, a high numerical aperture (N.A.) lens is required to generate a tight focus, generating a narrow depth of field, which necessitates dynamic focusing and limiting the imaging speed. To overcome this limitation, we developed a metasurface platform that generates multiple axial foci, which multiplies the volumetric OCT imaging speed by offering several focal planes. This platform offers accurate and flexible control over the number, positions, and intensities of axial foci generated. All-glass metasurface optical elements 8 mm in diameter are fabricated from fused-silica wafers and implemented into our scanning OCT system. With a constant lateral resolution of 1.1 μm over all depths, the multifocal OCT triples the volumetric acquisition speed for dermatological imaging, while still clearly revealing features of stratum corneum, epidermal cells, and dermal-epidermal junctions and offering morphological information as diagnostic criteria for basal cell carcinoma. The imaging speed can be further improved in a sparse sample, e.g., 7-fold with a seven-foci beam. In summary, this work demonstrates the concept of metasurface-based multifocal OCT for rapid virtual biopsy, further providing insights for developing rapid volumetric imaging systems with high resolution and compact volume.

Keywords: all-glass metasurface; cellular resolution; multifocal beam; noninvasive imaging; optical coherence tomography; phase change materials; virtual biopsy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Epidermal Cells
  • Microscopy
  • Skin* / diagnostic imaging
  • Tomography, Optical Coherence* / methods