2019 Vol. 8, No. 2

Transmission–reflection optoacoustic ultrasound (TROPUS) computed tomography of small animals
Elena Merčep, Joaquín L. Herraiz, Xosé Luís Deán-Ben, Daniel Razansky
Published. 2019, 8(2) : 249-260 doi: 10.1038/s41377-019-0130-5
Rapid progress in the development of multispectral optoacoustic tomography techniques has enabled unprecedented insights into biological dynamics and molecular processes in vivo and noninvasively at penetration and spatiotemporal scales not covered by modern optical microscopy methods. Ultrasound imaging provides highly complementary information on elastic and functional tissue properties and further aids in enhancing optoacoustic image quality. We devised the first hybrid transmission–reflection optoacoustic ultrasound (TROPUS) small animal imaging platform that combines optoacoustic tomography with both reflection- and transmission-mode ultrasound computed tomography. The system features full-view cross-sectional tomographic imaging geometry for concomitant noninvasive mapping of the absorbed optical energy, acoustic reflectivity, speed of sound, and acoustic attenuation in whole live mice with submillimeter resolution and unrivaled image quality. Graphics-processing unit (GPU)-based algorithms employing spatial compounding and bent-ray-tracing iterative reconstruction were further developed to attain real-time rendering of ultrasound tomography images in the full-ring acquisition geometry. In vivo mouse imaging experiments revealed fine details on the organ parenchyma, vascularization, tissue reflectivity, density, and stiffness. We further used the speed of sound maps retrieved by the transmission ultrasound tomography to improve optoacoustic reconstructions via two-compartment modeling. The newly developed synergistic multimodal combination offers unmatched capabilities for imaging multiple tissue properties and biomarkers with high resolution, penetration, and contrast.
Over 100-THz bandwidth selective difference frequency generation at LaAlO3/SrTiO3 nanojunctions
Lu Chen, Erin Sutton, Hyungwoo Lee, Jung-Woo Lee, Jianan Li, et al.
Published. 2019, 8(2) : 261-267 doi: 10.1038/s41377-019-0135-0
The ability to combine continuously tunable narrow-band terahertz (THz) generation that can access both the far-infrared and mid-infrared regimes with nanometer-scale spatial resolution is highly promising for identifying underlying light-matter interactions and realizing selective control of rotational or vibrational resonances in nanoparticles or molecules. Here, we report selective difference frequency generation with over 100 THz bandwidth via femtosecond optical pulse shaping. The THz emission is generated at nanoscale junctions at the interface of LaAlO3/SrTiO3 (LAO/STO) that is defined by conductive atomic force microscope lithography, with the potential to perform THz spectroscopy on individual nanoparticles or molecules. Numerical simulation of the time-domain signal facilitates the identification of components that contribute to the THz generation. This ultra-wide-bandwidth tunable nanoscale coherent THz source transforms the LAO/STO interface into a promising platform for integrated lab-on-chip optoelectronic devices with various functionalities.
Optical orbital-angular-momentum-multiplexed data transmission under high scattering
Lei Gong, Qian Zhao, Hao Zhang, Xin-Yao Hu, Kun Huang, et al.
Published. 2019, 8(2) : 268-278 doi: 10.1038/s41377-019-0140-3
Multiplexing multiple orbital angular momentum (OAM) channels enables high-capacity optical communication. However, optical scattering from ambient microparticles in the atmosphere or mode coupling in optical fibers significantly decreases the orthogonality between OAM channels for demultiplexing and eventually increases crosstalk in communication. Here, we propose a novel scattering-matrix-assisted retrieval technique (SMART) to demultiplex OAM channels from highly scattered optical fields and achieve an experimental crosstalk of –13.8 dB in the parallel sorting of 24 OAM channels after passing through a scattering medium. The SMART is implemented in a self-built data transmission system that employs a digital micromirror device to encode OAM channels and realize reference-free calibration simultaneously, thereby enabling a high tolerance to misalignment. We successfully demonstrate high-fidelity transmission of both gray and color images under scattering conditions at an error rate of < 0.08%. This technique might open the door to high-performance optical communication in turbulent environments.
Optical force-induced nonlinearity and self-guiding of light in human red blood cell suspensions
Rekha Gautam, Yinxiao Xiang, Josh Lamstein, Yi Liang, Anna Bezryadina, et al.
Published. 2019, 8(2) : 279-287 doi: 10.1038/s41377-019-0142-1
Osmotic conditions play an important role in the cell properties of human red blood cells (RBCs), which are crucial for the pathological analysis of some blood diseases such as malaria. Over the past decades, numerous efforts have mainly focused on the study of the RBC biomechanical properties that arise from the unique deformability of erythrocytes. Here, we demonstrate nonlinear optical effects from human RBCs suspended in different osmotic solutions. Specifically, we observe self-trapping and scattering-resistant nonlinear propagation of a laser beam through RBC suspensions under all three osmotic conditions, where the strength of the optical nonlinearity increases with osmotic pressure on the cells. This tunable nonlinearity is attributed to optical forces, particularly the forward-scattering and gradient forces. Interestingly, in aged blood samples (with lysed cells), a notably different nonlinear behavior is observed due to the presence of free hemoglobin. We use a theoretical model with an optical force-mediated nonlocal nonlinearity to explain the experimental observations. Our work on light self-guiding through scattering bio-soft-matter may introduce new photonic tools for noninvasive biomedical imaging and medical diagnosis.
Spatially and spectrally resolved orbital angular momentum interactions in plasmonic vortex generators
Jordan A. Hachtel, Sang-Yeon Cho, Roderick B. Davidson II, Matthew A. Feldman, Matthew F. Chisholm, et al.
Published. 2019, 8(2) : 288-296 doi: 10.1038/s41377-019-0136-z
Understanding the near-field electromagnetic interactions that produce optical orbital angular momentum (OAM) is crucial for integrating twisted light into nanotechnology. Here, we examine the cathodoluminescence (CL) of plasmonic vortices carrying OAM generated in spiral nanostructures. The nanospiral geometry defines a photonic local density of states that is sampled by the electron probe in a scanning transmission electron microscope (STEM), thus accessing the optical response of the plasmonic vortex with high spatial and spectral resolution. We map the full spectral dispersion of the plasmonic vortex in spiral structures designed to yield increasing topological charge. Additionally, we fabricate nested nanospirals and demonstrate that OAM from one nanospiral can be coupled to the nested nanospiral, resulting in enhanced luminescence in concentric spirals of like handedness with respect to concentric spirals of opposite handedness. The results illustrate the potential for generating and coupling plasmonic vortices in chiral nanostructures for sensitive detection and manipulation of optical OAM.
In vivo superresolution photoacoustic computed tomography by localization of single dyed droplets
Pengfei Zhang, Lei Li, Li Lin, Junhui Shi, Lihong V. Wang
Published. 2019, 8(2) : 297-305 doi: 10.1038/s41377-019-0147-9
Photoacoustic (PA) computed tomography (PACT) is a noninvasive hybrid imaging technique that combines optical excitation and acoustic detection to realize high contrast, high resolution, and deep penetration in biological tissues. However, the spatial resolution of PACT is limited by acoustic diffraction. Here, we report in vivo superresolution PACT, which breaks the acoustic diffraction limit by localizing the centers of single dyed droplets that are flowing in blood vessels. The droplets were prepared by dissolving hydrophobic absorbing dye in oil, followed by mixing with water. The dyed droplets generate much higher-amplitude PA signals than blood and can flow smoothly in vessels; thus, they are excellent tracers for localization-based superresolution imaging. The in vivo resolution enhancement was demonstrated by continuously imaging the cortical layer of a mouse brain during droplet injection. The droplets that were flowing in the vessels were localized, and their center positions were used to construct a superresolution image that exhibits sharper features and more finely resolved vascular details. An improvement in spatial resolution by a factor of 6 has been realized in vivo by the droplet localization technique.
Bright-field holography: cross-modality deep learning enables snapshot 3D imaging with bright-field contrast using a single hologram
Yichen Wu, Yilin Luo, Gunvant Chaudhari, Yair Rivenson, Ayfer Calis, et al.
Published. 2019, 8(2) : 219-225 doi: 10.1038/s41377-019-0139-9
Digital holographic microscopy enables the 3D reconstruction of volumetric samples from a single-snapshot hologram. However, unlike a conventional bright-field microscopy image, the quality of holographic reconstructions is compromised by interference fringes as a result of twin images and out-of-plane objects. Here, we demonstrate that cross-modality deep learning using a generative adversarial network (GAN) can endow holographic images of a sample volume with bright-field microscopy contrast, combining the volumetric imaging capability of holography with the speckle- and artifact-free image contrast of incoherent bright-field microscopy. We illustrate the performance of this "bright-field holography" method through the snapshot imaging of bioaerosols distributed in 3D, matching the artifact-free image contrast and axial sectioning performance of a high-NA bright-field microscope. This data-driven deep-learning-based imaging method bridges the contrast gap between coherent and incoherent imaging, and enables the snapshot 3D imaging of objects with bright-field contrast from a single hologram, benefiting from the wave-propagation framework of holography.
Net-FLICS: fast quantitative wide-field fluorescence lifetime imaging with compressed sensing – a deep learning approach
Ruoyang Yao, Marien Ochoa, Pingkun Yan, Xavier Intes
Published. 2019, 8(2) : 212-218 doi: 10.1038/s41377-019-0138-x
Macroscopic fluorescence lifetime imaging (MFLI) via compressed sensed (CS) measurements enables efficient and accurate quantification of molecular interactions in vivo over a large field of view (FOV). However, the current data-processing workflow is slow, complex and performs poorly under photon-starved conditions. In this paper, we propose Net-FLICS, a novel image reconstruction method based on a convolutional neural network (CNN), to directly reconstruct the intensity and lifetime images from raw time-resolved CS data. By carefully designing a large simulated dataset, Net-FLICS is successfully trained and achieves outstanding reconstruction performance on both in vitro and in vivo experimental data and even superior results at low photon count levels for lifetime quantification.
A full vectorial mapping of nanophotonic light fields
B. le Feber, J. E. Sipe, M. Wulf, L. Kuipers, N. Rotenberg
Published. 2019, 8(2) : 205-211 doi: 10.1038/s41377-019-0124-3
Light is a union of electric and magnetic fields, and nowhere is the complex relationship between these fields more evident than in the near fields of nanophotonic structures. There, complicated electric and magnetic fields varying over subwavelength scales are generally present, which results in photonic phenomena such as extraordinary optical momentum, superchiral fields, and a complex spatial evolution of optical singularities. An understanding of such phenomena requires nanoscale measurements of the complete optical field vector. Although the sensitivity of near-field scanning optical microscopy to the complete electromagnetic field was recently demonstrated, a separation of different components required a priori knowledge of the sample. Here, we introduce a robust algorithm that can disentangle all six electric and magnetic field components from a single near-field measurement without any numerical modeling of the structure. As examples, we unravel the fields of two prototypical nanophotonic structures: a photonic crystal waveguide and a plasmonic nanowire. These results pave the way for new studies of complex photonic phenomena at the nanoscale and for the design of structures that optimize their optical behavior.
Broadband THz absorption spectrometer based on excitonic nonlinear optical effects
Avan Majeed, Pavlo Ivanov, Benjamin Stevens, Edmund Clarke, Iain Butler, et al.
Published. 2019, 8(2) : 226-230 doi: 10.1038/s41377-019-0137-y
A broadly tunable THz source is realized via difference frequency generation, in which an enhancement to χ(3) that is obtained via resonant excitation of Ⅲ-Ⅴ semiconductor quantum well excitons is utilized. The symmetry of the quantum wells (QWs) is broken by utilizing the built-in electric-field across a p-i-n junction to produce effective χ(2) processes, which are derived from the high χ(3). This χ(2) media exhibits an onset of nonlinear processes at ~4 W cm-2, thereby enabling area (and, hence, power) scaling of the THz emitter. Phase matching is realized laterally through normal incidence excitation. Using two collimated 130 mW continuous wave (CW) semiconductor lasers with ~1-mm beam diameters, we realize monochromatic THz emission that is tunable from 0.75 to 3 THz and demonstrate the possibility that this may span 0.2-6 THz with linewidths of ~20 GHz and efficiencies of ~1 × 10-5, thereby realizing ~800 nW of THz power. Then, transmission spectroscopy of atmospheric features is demonstrated, thereby opening the way for compact, low-cost, swept-wavelength THz spectroscopy.
Direct current remote cloak for arbitrary objects
Tianhang Chen, Bin Zheng, Yihao Yang, Lian Shen, Zuojia Wang, et al.
Published. 2019, 8(2) : 231-236 doi: 10.1038/s41377-019-0141-2
Hiding an arbitrary object with a cloak at a distance from an object is of great significance in scientific research, but remains unrealized as a practical device. In this paper, we propose the first experimental realization of a remote cloaking device that makes any object located at a certain distance invisible at direct current (DC) frequency. A negative resistor network with active elements is used to achieve the remote function of the DC cloak. Based on this network, the cloak can remotely generate a hidden region without distorting the currents far from the cloaked region. The experimental results show that any object in the hidden region is invisible to a DC detector. Our cloak does not require any knowledge of the hidden object. The experimental demonstration shows the superiority of this remote cloaking device, which may find potential applications in medical or geologic research.
Circularly and elliptically polarized light under water and the Umov effect
Yitian Ding, Stanley Pau
Published. 2019, 8(2) : 237-242 doi: 10.1038/s41377-019-0143-0
Total internal reflection occurs when light is incident on the interface of high- and low-refractive-index materials at an angle greater than the critical angle. Sunlight with high degree of linear polarization, such as atmospheric scattered skylight, can be converted with a high efficiency up to 53% to circular and elliptical polarizations by total internal reflection under water in the region outside Snell's window. The degree of circular polarization is observed to be inversely dependent on the albedo of underwater objects and is shown to be a direct consequence of the Umov effect. Our results are important for underwater polarimetry, surveillance applications and studies of marine animals' polarized vision near the water-air interface.
Quo vadis, plasmonic optical tweezers?
Kenneth B. Crozier
Published. 2019, 8(2) : 243-248 doi: 10.1038/s41377-019-0146-x
Conventional optical tweezers based on traditional optical microscopes are subject to the diffraction limit, making the precise trapping and manipulation of very small particles challenging. Plasmonic optical tweezers can surpass this constraint, but many potential applications would benefit from further enhanced performance and/or expanded functionalities. In this Perspective, we discuss trends in plasmonic tweezers and describe important opportunities presented by its interdisciplinary combination with other techniques in nanoscience. We furthermore highlight several open questions concerning fundamentals that are likely to be important for many potential applications.