Sub-Surface Molecular Analysis and Imaging in Turbid Media Using Time-Gated Raman Spectral Multiplexing.
Corden C., Matousek P., Conti C., Notingher I.
Obtaining molecular information deeper within optically turbid samples is valuable in many applications. However, in many cases this is challenging, in particular when the sample elicits strong laser-induced fluorescence emission. Here, we investigated the use of time-gated and micro-spatially offset Raman spectroscopy (micro-SORS) based on spectral multiplexing detection to obtain sub-surface molecular analysis and imaging for both fluorescing and non-fluorescing samples. The multiplexed spectral detection achieved with a digital micromirror device (DMD) allowed fast acquisition of the time-gated signals to enable three-dimensional Raman mapping (raster scanning in the lateral x,y plane and using time-of-flight calibration for the axial z-direction). Sub-millimeter resolution molecular depth mapping was achieved with dwell times on the order of seconds per pixel. To suppress fluorescence backgrounds and enhance Raman bands, time-gated Raman spectroscopy was combined with micro-SORS to recover Raman signals of red pigments placed behind a layer of optically turbid material. Using a defocusing micro-SORS approach, both fluorescence and Raman signals from the surface layers were further suppressed, which enhanced the Raman signals from the deeper sublayers containing the pigment. These results demonstrate that time-gated Raman spectroscopy based on spectral multiplexed detection, and in combination with micro-SORS, is a powerful technique for sub-surface molecular analysis and imaging, which may find practical applications in medical imaging, cultural heritage, forensics, and industry.