Extended focus optical coherence microscopy and fluorescence lifetime imaging
Fourier domain Optical coherence microscopy (FDOCM) offers excellent sensitivity and high axial resolution to image the structure of biological tissue. The depth information is extracted in parallel and allows very high volume acquisition rates. The present system uses a diffractionless beam, produced with an axicon lens, to achieve high lateral resolution all while maintaining an extended depth of field (xf). The xfOCM signal reveals the spatial distribution of changes of the refractive index in the sample that scatter the incident light. To identify and validate the functionality of the observed structures can proof difficult. In this work the xfOCM setup was interfaced with a fluorescent lifetime imaging (FLIM) system, working in the Fourier domain and measuring the phase offset between the modulated excitation signal and the returned fluorescence intensity. Both the fluorescence amplitude and lifetime are retrieved. The amplitude contains important information due to the selective labeling of the tissue. The lifetime is very sensitive to the surrounding environment and varies for different fluorophores, adding further contrast. The xfOCM tomograms and FLIM images are acquired in parallel. A complementary view of the sample is obtained that helps to understand and interpret the xfOCM signal. The lifetime measurement provides further contrast to perform functional imaging on biological samples such as the rat hair follicle.