Biomed Eng Lett.  2018 May;8(2):203-213. 10.1007/s13534-018-0067-2.

Photoacoustic microscopy: principles and biomedical applications

  • 1Department of Biomedical Engineering, Duke University, 100 Science Drive, Durham, NC 27708, USA.


Photoacoustic microscopy (PAM) has become an increasingly popular technology for biomedical applications, providing anatomical, functional, and molecular information. In this concise review, we first introduce the basic principles and typical system designs of PAM, including optical-resolution PAM and acoustic-resolution PAM. The major imaging characteristics of PAM, i.e. spatial resolutions, penetration depth, and scanning approach are discussed in detail. Then, we introduce the major biomedical applications of PAM, including anatomical imaging across scales from cellular level to organismal level, label-free functional imaging using endogenous biomolecules, and molecular imaging using exogenous contrast agents. Lastly, we discuss the technical and engineering challenges of PAM in the translation to potential clinical impacts.


Photoacoustic microscopy; Structural imaging; Functional imaging; Molecular imaging; Endogenous biomolecules; Exogenous contrast agents

MeSH Terms

Contrast Media
Molecular Imaging
Weights and Measures
Contrast Media
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