Fluorescence imaging is one of the most important research tools in biomedical sciences. However, scattering of light severely impedes imaging of thick biological samples beyond the ballistic regime. Here we directly show focusing and high-resolution fluorescence imaging deep inside biological tissues by digitally time-reversing ultrasound-tagged light with high optical gain (~5×10 5). We confirm the presence of a time-reversed optical focus along with a diffuse background—a corollary of partial phase conjugation—and develop an approach for dynamic background cancellation. To illustrate the potential of our method, we image complex fluorescent objects and tumour microtissues at an unprecedented depth of 2.5 mm in biological tissues at a lateral resolution of 36 μm×52 μm and an axial resolution of 657 μm. Our results set the stage for a range of deep-tissue imaging applications in biomedical research and medical diagnostics.
Fluorescence imaging is important for biomedical research and applications, but the turbidity of biological material prohibits deep tissue study. By combining ultrasound-encoding with digital time-reversal, Wang et al. perform focussed fluorescence imaging at a tissue depth of 2.5mm.