Realizing a miniature, user-friendly and contactless endoscopic photoacoustic probe is the goal for many imaging applications. By reducing the imaging head to a single mode fiber and a gradient-index (GRIN) lens, the authors not only managed to reduce this endoscopic probe diameter to only ~3 mm, but also made the device simple to handle. The rest of the experimental setup also remains very simple as it mainly consists of two lasers (a pulsed one for the optical excitation and a continuous one for the photoacoustic detection), a wavelength division multiplexer, a circulator, and simple optics. This elegant approach allows to easily image the photoacoustic signal coming from a sample with an optical resolution and while being contactless with it, as the photoacoustic signal is monitored through an interrogation light beam. Images with a lateral resolution of only a few microns are achieved with this new endoscope device on many different samples, such as carbon fibers, Li metal batteries, and even in vivo
zebrafish larva. This new approach will certainly open the way for more development in photoacoustic remote sensing microscopic approaches.
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