Measurement of tissue optical properties by time-resolved detection of laser-induced transient stress

Alexander A. Oraevsky, Steven L. Jacques, Frank K. Tittel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

297 Scopus citations


We report on a technique utilizing time-resolved detection of laser-induced stress transients for the measurement of optical properties in turbid media specifically suitable for biological tissues. The method was tested initially in nonscattering absorbing media so that it could be compared with spectrophotometry. The basis of this method is provided by the conditions of temporal stress confinement in the irradiated volume where the pressure generated in tissues heated instantly by laser pulses is proportional to the absorbed laser energy density, and the exponential profile of the initial stress distribution in the irradiated volume corresponds to the z-axial distribution of the absorbed laser fluence. Planar thermoelastic waves can propagate in water-containing media with minimal distortion, and their axial profiles can be detected by an acoustic transducer with sufficient temporal resolution. The acoustic waves induced by 14-ns laser pulses in nonscattering media, turbid gels, and tissues were measured by a piezoelectric transducer with a 3-ns response time. Temporal profiles of stress transients yielded z-axial distributions of the absorbed laser energy in turbid and opaque media, provided that the speed of sound in these media was known. The absorption and effective scattering coefficients of beef liver, dog prostate, and human aortic atheroma at three wavelengths, 1064 nm (in near infrared), 532 nm (visible), and 355 nm (near UV), were deduced from laser-induced stress profiles with additional measurements of total diffuse reflectance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)402-415
Number of pages14
JournalApplied Optics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 1997


  • Acoustic transducer
  • Light distribution
  • Optoacoustic imaging
  • Stress transients
  • Tissue optics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Engineering (miscellaneous)
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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