Mode locked solid state laser sources for optical coherence tomography

Brett E. Bouma, Guillermo J. Tearney, Stephen A. Boppart, Boris Golubovic, Igor P. Bilinsky, Mark E. Brezinski, James G. Fujimoto

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


A high speed technique for performing 'optical biopsies,' or optical diagnostic imaging of in vivo tissue architectural morphology, would greatly enhance the diagnosis and clinical management of many diseases. Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is a novel optical imaging technique that uses low coherence interferometry to obtain micron scale, cross- sectional images of biological systems. OCT was initially applied in ophthalmology to provide high resolution, cross sectional, tomographic images of the transparent structures in the eye and clinical studies show that OCT has considerable promise for the diagnosis of a wide range of retinal macular diseases. OCT imaging in other human tissues is more difficult due to optical scattering. However, recent in vitro studies have shown that OCT can image architectural morphology in highly optically scattering tissues. One of the key technological issues for OCT in optical biopsy is the development of low coherence laser sources. Essential attributes of a clinically viable light source for OCT include high single-transverse-mode power, short coherence length, and a central wavelength optimal for deep penetration within human tissue. Passively mode locked solid state lasers based on Ti:Al2O3 and Cr:Mg 2SiO4 are capable of providing hundreds of milliwatts of single-transverse mode light with coherence lengths as short as 1.8 microns. We present recent developments in the optimization of mode locked solid state lasers for application to OCT and demonstrate the resulting capability to enable fast acquisition of high resolution tomographic images.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)37-44
Number of pages8
JournalProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
StatePublished - 1997
Externally publishedYes
EventCoherence Domain Optical Methods in Biomedical Science and Clinical Applications - San Jose, CA, United States
Duration: Feb 12 1997Feb 12 1997


  • Medical imaging
  • Optical coherence tomography
  • Tomography
  • Ultrafast lasers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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