Shuo Tang


Relevant Degree Programs


Graduate Student Supervision

Doctoral Student Supervision (Jan 2008 - Nov 2019)
Photoacoustic tomography for prostate imaging by transurethral illumination (2020)

Photoacoustic tomography (PAT) is a hybrid imaging modality that combines optical excitation and acoustic detection and overcomes the optical diffusion limit in tissue. Taking the advantages of deep penetration and high resolution, PAT is widely applied in biosciences. In prostate imaging, several PAT systems have been demonstrated to be capable of showing distinct photoacoustic (PA) contrast from malignant tissue or angiogenesis-related to prostate cancer. In this thesis, I explore the potential of applying PAT with transurethral illumination for prostate imaging. Challenges in translating PAT system to clinical imaging for prostate include the lack of sufficient local fluence for deep tissue penetration, risk of over irradiation near the laser-tissue contact surface and limited image reconstruction quality caused by the limited detection view and noisy PA signal. In this thesis, systematic design, optimization, and application of a PAT system with transurethral illumination are conducted.A fiber coupling scheme with a beam homogenizer is demonstrated for coupling high energy pulses in a single multimode fiber, achieved by using a cross cylindrical lens array. The peak power on the fiber tip surface is reduced and thus enhances the coupling performance. Recorded high pulse energy is achieved with high coupling efficiency as well. The high pulse energy can enable deep imaging depth in tissue.With high-energy pulses delivered by the multimode fiber, a transurethral illumination probe is designed, which can illuminate the prostate from the urethra. A parabolic cylindrical mirror reflects the light emitted from the diffusing fiber to achieve a parallel side illumination with doubled fluence. This design is optimized for both high energy pulse illumination and maintaining the laser fluence below the safety limit in tissue.As the detection view for prostate imaging is limited, a variance-reduced stochastic gradient descent (VR-SGD) algorithm is developed to improve the image reconstruction. The algorithm is verified by simulation and experiment of 2D imaging. VR-SGD algorithm demonstrates its capability to reduce the noise level and artifacts generated in the limited-view detection by linear array transducers. Through this study, the PAT system with transurethral illumination is shown to be capable and feasible for prostate imaging.

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Miniature multiphoton endoscopy using frequency-doubled Er-doped fiber laser (2019)

Multiphoton microscopy (MPM) is a non-invasive, high-resolution imaging tool for visualizing tissues and organs. MPM uses femtosecond laser pulses to excite nonlinear signals from tissues and is capable of inherent optical sectioning. MPM systems have been mostly implemented using free-space optics and microscope platforms. For clinical applications, a compact fiber-optic MPM endoscopy with a miniature probe is needed for in vivo imaging. In this thesis, I explore the potential of applying femtosecond fiber laser in MPM endoscopy. Femtosecond fiber laser has the advantages of compactness, robustness, and direct fiber-coupling. Challenges in developing the MPM endoscopy includes optimization of the laser source for highly efficient MPM excitation, managing femtosecond pulse delivery through optical fiber, and designing a miniature scanning probe. In this thesis, systematic design, optimization, and application of a miniature MPM endoscopy based on the frequency-doubled Er-doped fiber laser are conducted, and the challenges are addressed. An Er-doped fiber laser operating at 1580 nm wavelength is developed and then frequency-doubled into ~790 nm wavelength to excite intrinsic two-photon excitation fluorescence signal from tissues. The frequency-doubling unit is integrated into the distal end of the miniature probe which is implemented by a miniature scanner and objective. The Er-doped fiber laser is directly fiber-coupled into the probe, making the system compact and portable.Imaging speed of MPM endoscopy is critical for clinical applications. To increase the imaging speed, the laser is optimized to shorten its pulsewidth to 80 fs for increasing the multiphoton excitation efficiency. All-fiber dispersion compensation and pulse compression by single mode fiber are conducted. A fast MPM imaging speed at 4 frames/s is achieved. Furthermore, the MPM endoscopy is applied for simultaneous two-photon and three-photon imaging. The fundamental laser pulse at 1580 nm and its frequency-doubled pulse at 790 nm are used as a dual-wavelength excitation source. Simultaneous imaging of two-photon excitation fluorescence, second harmonic generation, and third harmonic generation are achieved to acquire complementary information from tissues. Label-free multimodal imaging is demonstrated for biological tissues.Through this study, the miniature MPM endoscopy using frequency-doubled Er-doped fiber laser is shown to have great potential for clinical applications.

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Development of Jones matrix tomography for functional ophthalmic imaging (2015)

Optical coherence tomography (OCT) provides the axial profile of back-scattered light from biological tissues and enables non-invasive, three-dimensional structure imaging. Since the introduction of OCT technique, OCT has shown its powerful utility especially in the field of ophthalmology. However its capability is still limited to the structural investigation. Because many eye diseases are tightly associated with tissue functions such as blood circulation and tissue microstructure, development of functional OCT is important. Since the necessity of functional extension of OCT technique got more attention, Doppler OCT and polarization-sensitive OCT (PS-OCT) have been developed for blood flow and birefringence measurements, respectively, and have been widely utilized for ophthalmic imaging for clinical and pathological research purposes. Jones-matrix-based OCT, also named as Jones matrix tomography (JMT), was originally designed as one type of PS-OCTs capable of measuring the polarization properties of biological tissue. In this dissertation, an advance version of JMT system is developed and also novel applications of JMT in ophthalmology is introduced. New JMT algorithms are developed, which make JMT system being capable of multi-contrast imaging including scattering, localized flow, and polarization contrasts. Novel spectral shift compensation and adaptive averaging methods are devised for achieving sensitivity-enhanced scattering OCT and polarization property measurements. Especially, by stabilizing the phase of the system, Doppler flow measurement is achieved with a high sensitivity. As a new clinical application, JMT is utilized for three-dimensional volumetric in vivo imaging of human eyelid. With the degree of polarization uniformity contrast (DOPU), one of the polarization contrasts produced by JMT, meibomian glands (MGs) are exclusively segmented from OCT volumetric image. With MG segmentation, its age-dependent morphological characteristics are further investigated. As another clinical application, JMT is also utilized for investigating corneal collagen cross-linking (CXL) effect on cornea stroma. Fresh bovine corneas are treated by two different CXL protocols (standard and accelerated CXL) and measured ex vivo. Morphological changes on the cornea after the two different protocols are cross-examined to evaluate their treatment outcomes in terms of the cross-linking effectiveness and progression.Through this study, JMT is shown to have great potential to monitor and diagnose many different ocular diseases non-invasively.

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Investigating second harmonic generation in collagen tissues (2015)

Collagen is the most abundant structural protein in the human body. When it is excited by femtosecond near infrared laser, second harmonic generation (SHG) signal at half the wavelength of the excitation wave is excited. For imaging thick tissues, the SHG signal is collected in the backward direction. The objective of this work is to elaborate the origin of the backward SHG in collagen at the fibril level and investigate some of its optic characteristics. The optic characteristics investigated include the wavelength dependence of SHG intensity, which is useful to analyze SHG in collagen tissues. However, the current published results are inconsistent. We study the microscopy system factors affecting the wavelength dependence and calibrate them by measuring the wavelength dependence of SHG intensity in a BaB₂O₄ crystal. With the proper calibration, typical wavelength dependence SHG spectra from mouse tail and Achilles tendon are investigated. The backward-collected SHG signal includes the backward generated SHG, and the forward generated but backward scattered SHG. Those two sources of the total backward SHG have different properties due to the difference in phase mismatch in the forward and backward directions. Here a non-invasive method is developed to separate them by using pinholes. By varying the pinhole size in a confocal multiphoton microscopy, the proportion of the backward scattered SHG to the total backward SHG can be obtained. Our results indicate that backward scattered SHG may not be the major source of backward SHG in the mouse tail tendon, which means significant SHG is purely generated in the backward direction. A large phase mismatch exists in generating backward SHG. Nevertheless, significant backward generated SHG has been observed in collagen tissues. We hypothesize that the periodic lattice structure of fibrillar collagen can provide a virtual momentum to assist the backward phase matching. Here the backward SHG phase matching is investigated in theory, simulation, and experiments, which are consistent and support the hypothesis. The various properties investigated in this thesis can provide a better understanding about SHG in collagen tissues and lead to new applications of SHG microscopy in diagnosing collagen related diseases in the future.

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Master's Student Supervision (2010 - 2018)
Investigating signal denoising and iterative reconstruction algorithms in photoacoustic tomography (2017)

Photoacoustic tomography (PAT) is a promising biomedical imaging modality that achieves strong optical contrast and high ultrasound resolution. This technique is based on the photoacoustic (PA) effect which refers to illuminating the tissue by a nanosecond pulsed laser and generating acoustic waves by thermoelastic expansion. By detecting the PA waves, the initial pressure distribution that corresponds to the optical absorption map can be obtained by a reconstruction algorithm. In the linear array transducer based data acquisition system, the PA signals are contaminated with various noises. Also, the reconstruction suffers from artifacts and missing structures due to the limited detection view. We aim to reduce the effect of noise by a denoising preprocessing. The PAT system with a linear array transducer and a parallel data acquisition system (DAQ) has prominent band-shaped noise due to signal interference. The band-shaped noise is treated as a low-rank matrix, and the pure PA signal is treated as a sparse matrix, respectively. Robust principal component analysis (RPCA) algorithm is applied to extract the pure PA signal from the noise contaminated PA measurement. The RPCA approach is conducted on experiment data of different samples. The denoising results are compared with several methods and RPCA is shown to outperform the other methods. It is demonstrated that RPCA is promising in reducing the background noise in PA image reconstruction. We also aim to improve the iterative reconstruction. The variance reduced stochastic gradient descent (VR-SGD) algorithm is implemented in PAT reconstruction. A new forward projection matrix is also developed to more accurately match with the measurement data. Using different evaluation criteria, such as peak signal-to-noise ratio (PSNR), relative root-mean-square of reconstruction error (RRMSE) and line profile comparisons, the reconstructions from various iterative algorithms are compared. The advantages of VR-SGD are demonstrated on both simulation and experimental data. Our results indicate that VR-SGD in combination with the accurate projection matrix can lead to improved reconstruction in a small number of iterations. RPCA denoising and VR-SGD iterative reconstruction have been implemented in PAT. Our results show that RPCA and VR-SGD are promising approaches to improve the image reconstruction quality in PAT.

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Polarization-sensitive optical coherence tomography imaging of articular cartilage (2017)

Articular cartilage is the connective tissue protecting the joints, which can be divided into four structural zones from shallow to deep: superficial zone, transitional zone, deep zone and calcified zone. Osteoarthritis, a common joint disease, is associated with the progressive degeneration of the cartilage structure. The destruction progressively develops from the superficial zone towards the deep zone as the disease progresses. Thus, visualization of articular cartilage structural zones would significantly facilitate cartilage disease diagnosis, repair, regeneration, and transplantation.Polarization sensitive optical coherence tomography (PS-OCT) is a powerful non-invasive imaging modality capable of evaluating the birefringent properties in biological tissue such as collagen. The second harmonic generation (SHG) imaging in multiphoton microscopy (MPM) can provide complementary high-resolution imaging of the microscopic structure of collagen fibers. In this thesis, we apply both PS-OCT and SHG imaging on articular cartilage. An automated 3-D segmentation method based on PS-OCT phase retardation measurement is developed to differentiate the structural zones of articular cartilage. Since the collagen fiber organization varies from the tissue surface to deep regions, the depth-resolved phase retardation measured by PS-OCT is utilized to distinguish and segment the depth-related structural zones of cartilage tissue. The segmentation results are validated by the high-resolution SHG imaging. This method offers a novel quantification and tissue segmentation approach based on the phase retardation measurement by PS-OCT. A comparison between PS-OCT and SHG imaging on articular cartilage is also carried out. Based on the multilayer architecture of articular cartilage, various features extracted from PS-OCT and SHG are compared along the tissue depth. The segmentation method is implemented to distinguish the tissue layers based on the birefringence property. The segmentation results match well with the different quantification results achieved from the top-view and side-view illumination PS-OCT, and some features extracted from SHG, such as the SHG intensity and the collagen fiber orientation. The results show reasonable association between the tissue birefringence detected by PS-OCT and the fiber organization detected by SHG microscopy. PS-OCT and SHG are capable to analyze both the macro and micro characteristics of collagen fibers in articular cartilage, showing great potential in detecting related disease progression.

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Investigating limited view problem in photoacoustic tomography (2016)

Photoacoustic (PA) imaging is a new biomedical imaging modality that is based on the PA effect. In the PA effect, nanosecond short pulsed laser light illuminates on tissue and is absorbed by optical absorbers, which undergo a temporary temperature rise. The illuminated region experiences thermo-elastic expansion and engenders an abrupt and localized pressure variation. This transient variation causes a PA wave to propagate from the absorber outward through the tissue to the surface for detection by an ultrasound transducer. The detected PA signal can then be used to estimate the initial pressure distribution. PA imaging is an absorption-based modality which is capable of providing the optical property of the illuminated tissue while achieving deep imaging penetration compared with conventional optical imaging. Meanwhile, the PA image can also provide a similar spatial resolution as ultrasound imaging.Photoacoustic tomography (PAT) is the most widely used imaging mode in PA imaging due to its simplicity and versatility. One major drawback in PAT is that the reconstruction algorithm required to estimate the initial pressure demands a large detection view angle for exact reconstruction, which is typically impractical in clinical applications. Our goal of this thesis is to develop a novel methodology to increase the detection view angle by using two linear array transducers at different orientations. The relative position between the two transducers needs to be calibrated in order to combine the received signal from the two transducers. A new calibration approach is developed by using the ultrasound modality. The efficacy of the calibration method is demonstrated by both simulation and experiment. With increased detection view angle, the reconstructed image indicates more complete tissue structures compared with the one acquired by a single transducer.By combining the PAT images from the two transducers, an improvement on the image quality through complementing the structural information is achieved. Our approach does not require a calibration phantom, which can largely simplify the calibration process and shorten the acquisition time. The use of linear array transducers and the flexibility of positioning the transducers to fit tissue geometry make this approach promising for clinical applications.

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Corneal visualization and characterization for applications in ophthalmology using optical imaging (2014)

Multiphoton microscopy (MPM) and optical coherence tomography (OCT) are two modalities suitable for imaging corneas. MPM is a nonlinear optical imaging technique that has sub-micron spatial resolution, deep penetration, and excellent optical-sectioning capability. It can detect two contrasts simultaneously: two-photon excited fluorescence (TPEF) and second harmonic generation (SHG). TPEF and SHG are used to visualize cells and collagen fibers, respectively. On the other hand, OCT is based on the detection of single-backscattered light using interferometry principles. Generally, it has micrometer-resolution and up to a few millimeters of imaging-depth. Combining MPM and OCT for corneal imaging is intuitive in the current study as the complementary information obtained from cornea helps us to understand the morphological and physiological status of the cornea. Furthermore, the MPM and OCT images can be used to quantitatively characterize the thicknesses and refractive index (RI) of the major corneal layers. The visualization of the corneal morphology is important in ophthalmology. It can be used to: study the effects of contact lens wear and topical medications; diagnose corneal diseases such as infectious keratitis; and observe corneal ulcers, and keratoconous. In addition, the ability to quantitatively characterize the corneal thickness and RI is valuable for many ophthalmologic applications. These two parameters are useful for laser refractive surgeries, and the diagnosis of corneal degeneration, and endothelial dysfunction. They are also linked to other important parameters such as corneal hydration and intraocular pressure. In this thesis, the capabilities of a combined MPM and OCT system for corneal imaging are demonstrated. Firstly, it is used to simultaneously visualize and compare the morphology, and to characterize the thicknesses and the RI of five different species’ corneas. In order to visualize the thicker tissues, the OCT modality is altered in two ways: a prism-based hardware dispersion balancing unit is added to minimize the dispersion mismatch in OCT; and an additional OCT configuration of objective lens and spectrometer setup was introduced. Secondly, the combined system is used to identify an induced parasitic infection in human corneas. The study serves as an important step forward to bring the combined MPM and OCT technology to clinical settings.

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Photoacoustic imaging for prostate brachytherapy (2014)

Photoacoustic (PA) imaging is an emerging imaging modality that relies on the PA effect. The PA effect is caused by exposing an optically absorbing sample to near-infrared light which causes the sample to experience a temporary temperature increase through optical absorption. The heated region undergoes thermoelastic expansion and produces an abrupt and localized pressure change. This change results in a transient PA wave that propagates out toward the sample surface for collection by an ultrasound (US) transducer. Through image reconstruction, the optical property of the sample can be obtained.PA imaging is promising in detecting brachytherapy seeds during prostate brachytherapy. The high absorption coefficient of the metallic seeds leads to high PA imaging contrast. One major drawback is the limited imaging depth due to high optical attenuation of the excitation light in tissue. One of the goals of this thesis is to conduct initial feasibility tests of enhancing the PA contrast through brachytherapy seeds modifications. Seed coated with a contrast enhancing material shows an increase of 18 dB in signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) and two time increase in the imaging depth (5 cm). Another method of silver coating leads to a 5 dB improvement in the SNR of the modified seeds. An alternative approach in using dyed ethanol solution as a contrast enhancing agent by filling the spaces between two seeds is also reported. The result showed improvement comparable to the black paint method. Another goal is to propose a novel method of tissue typing in PA imaging. A temperature change in tissue can lead to changes of several tissue parameters which can be used for tissue typing. One of the parameters is the speed of sound in tissue, which increases in water-based non-fatty tissue and decreases in fatty tissue as temperature is raised. We show that on average, 6.9±1.5 %/min increase and 4.2±1.5 %/min decrease in PA intensity are observed in porcine liver and bovine fat samples respectively through one minute of laser heating. These results demonstrate that by analyzing the PA intensity change of the illuminated sample, one can extract characteristic information that can lead to tissue type differentiation.

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Characterization of chirped photonic crystal fiber and its application in multiphoton microscopy (2013)

Multiphoton Microscopy (MPM) is a widely used imaging technique in the biomedicine field. Fiber-based multiphoton endoscopes are important for in vivo clinical application because they enable minimally invasive imaging. One major challenge for these endoscopes is the efficient delivery of ultrashort pulses in the near infrared region through the optical fibers. MPM requires ultrashort pulses to obtain high peak power for the nonlinear excitation. However, the optical fibers, can introduce dispersion which can severely broaden the pulses and reduce the peak power. The purpose of this study is to find a good candidate of optical fibers that can propagate sub-30 fs pulses while maintaining high peak power for the MPM excitation.In this project, I investigate the feasibility of applying a specially-designed chirped photonic crystal fiber (CPCF) for MPM imaging because CPCF has unique cell-size radial chirp can achieve low dispersion in a broadband transmission window. The key features of the CPCF are characterized, such as spectra, mode profile, and dispersion parameter, etc. A fiber-delivered MPM system is developed by adding the fiber coupling to a multimodal microscope. A prism-based dispersion pre-compensation unit is optimized to compensate the dispersion from all the optical components in the CPCF-delivered system. After pre-compensation, the appealing performance of CPCF applied in MPM is demonstrated by imaging various biological samples. Additionally, traditional hollow core fiber (HCF) is used as a comparison. The HCF consists of several identical reflective layers in the cladding. I pre-compensate the laser pulses after the HCF propagation and MPM images for similar samples are acquired. Large improvement in image contrast is observed in all samples for the system using the CPCF for light delivery compared with the system using the conventional HCF. The enhancement in second harmonic generation (SHG) is more significant than that in two photon excited fluorescence (TPEF).Our study shows that CPCF can successfully deliver sub-30 fs pulses with significantly increased excitation efficiency of MPM for the broad-band laser. These properties are highly sought after in MPM endoscopy. With the fiber delivery of femtosecond pulses, MPM can be developed into a portable system for in vivo imaging.

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Design and application of combined multiphoton microscopy and optical coherence tomography system (2012)

Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is a non-invasive optical tomographic technique based on the principle of interferometry. It can capture micrometer-resolution, three-dimensional images of tissues over millimeter field-of-view at a fast speed. Multiphoton microscopy (MPM) is an emerging imaging modality based on the excitation of nonlinear signals from fluorescent molecules and the induction of second harmonic generation (SHG). It is capable of en-face high-resolution imaging with sub-micron resolution. Although OCT and MPM are essential imaging tools for disease diagnosis, each one of them has shortages, such as the low resolution of OCT and the low depth penetration of MPM. The purpose of this study is to design a multimodal imaging system by combining MPM and OCT into a single platform so that the two modalities can complement and overcome the shortages of each other. The design consists of two parts: hardware and software. For hardware, the two modalities are integrated into a single platform, sharing the laser source, the controlling scanners and the sample arm. In addition, the OCT has a reference arm for interference and a custom-built spectrometer for signal detection, whereas the MPM uses two photomultiplier tubes (PMT) for photon detection. For software, two user interfaces are specially designed to control beam scanning and data acquisition of the MPM and OCT respectively.The performance of this mutlimodal system is demonstrated by imaging biological samples. The results indicate that our system is capable of multiscale imaging of multilayered tissues with clear structures. One of the important applications of the multimodal system is measuring the refractive index (RI) and thickness of biological tissues. This capability is demonstrated on fish cornea. The results show our system is capable of imaging as well as quantitative characterization of RI and thickness of multilayered biological tissues. This system can potentially be a powerful tool for disease detection and surgery treatment.

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Spectral domain optical coherence tomography system design : sensitivity fall-off and processing speed enhancement (2010)

Spectral domain optical coherence tomography (SD-OCT) is an imaging modality that provides cross-sectional images with micrometer resolution. One major drawback of SD-OCT, however, is the depth dependent sensitivity fall-off by which image quality rapidly degrades in regions corresponding to deeper locations of the sample. This disadvantage is due to the finite spectral resolution of the hardware as well as the software reconstruction method that is used.SD-OCT employs a broadband light source for illumination and a spectrometer for signal detection. This system uses diffraction grating to separate spectral components by wavelengths (λ), which are then detected by a CCD array. The sensitivity fall-off is dependent on the spot size shining on the CCD, with respect to the pixel size of the CCD array. This hardware contribution to the fall-off can be minimized by careful design of the spectrometer. The software reconstruction is based mainly on the discrete Fourier transform (DFT) of the measured spectral data, which can be performed quickly using the widely accepted fast Fourier transform (FFT) algorithm, provided that the input is sampled uniformly in the wavenumber (k) domain. Due to the inverse relationship between k and λ, the data must be resampled to achieve a uniform spacing in k. Accuracy of the resampling method is important for the reconstruction, since the performance of the interpolation algorithm tends to degrade as the signal approaches the Nyquist sampling rate. This also causes a sensitivity fall-off for signals originating at greater depths, which corresponds to a higher modulation fringe frequency in the k domain. The goal of this thesis is to outline the development of a real-time SD-OCT imaging system that can deliver high quality images. The aim is to solve two major problems of current state-of-the-art SD-OCT systems, namely the depth dependent sensitivity fall-off and the image reconstruction time limitation. An SD-OCT system is demonstrated using a new reconstruction approach based on non-uniform fast Fourier transform (NUFFT). Using parallel computing techniques, our system can produce high quality images at over 100 frames per second with less than 12.5dB sensitivity fall-off over the full imaging range of 1.7mm.

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