Photothermal Microscopy

Research Overview

This research is in collaboration with Prof. Gregory Kowalski in the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering.

The current method of cancer detection in human skin is a time consuming and often painful process. The skin is biopsied, frozen then viewed under a scanning confocal microscope. This process is repeated a number of times if necessary. My research seeks to define a non-invasive means of imaging the skin through measurement of the Doppler shift of the skin due to thermal expansion.

A heating laser will be applied to an area while a scanning laser system images the area. Expansion of the material due to heating causes a change in optical path length of the light through the material. The change to optical path length occurs from the change in the index of refraction and from the physical displacement of the material. Dissimilar materials exhibit different expansion properties and thus different changes in their index of refraction. These changes can be detected by comparing the reflected beam from the scanner to its reference. The information obtained through the thermoelastic expansion of the material will define a non-invasive means for imaging skin and characterize the mechanical properties of tissue and tumor, the latter of which are not well defined.

For more information, contact Jason Kellicker

Optical Science Laboratory

This research project is part of the work at the Optical Science Laboratory of Chuck DiMarzio in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Northeastern University. For other projects see Optical Science Lab Research Page.

Last update 30 June 2012