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Vertical-cavity surface-emitting laser sources for gigahertz-bandwidth, multiwavelength frequency-domain photon migration


Frequency-domain photon migration (FDPM) uses modulated laser light to measure the bulk optical properties of turbid media and is increasingly applied for noninvasive functional medical imaging in the near-infrared. Although semiconductor edge-emitting laser diodes have been traditionally used as miniature light sources for this application, we show that vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers (VCSELs) exhibit output power and modulation performance characteristics suitable for FDPM measurements of tissue optical properties at modulation frequencies exceeding 1 GHz. We also show that an array of multiple VCSEL devices can be coherently modulated at frequencies suitable for FDPM and can improve optical power. In addition, their small size and simple packaging make them an attractive choice as components in wearable sensors and clinical FDPM-based optical spectroscopy systems. We demonstrate the benefits of VCSEL technology by fabricating and testing a unique, compact VCSEL-based optical probe with an integrated avalanche photodiode. We demonstrate sensitivity of the VCSEL-based probe to subcutaneous tissue hemodynamics that was induced during an arterial cuff occlusion of the upper arm in a human subject.

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