Optoacoustic (photoacoustic) dermoscopy offers two principal advantages over conventional optical imaging applied in dermatology. First, it yields high-resolution cross-sectional images of the skin at depths not accessible to other non-invasive optical imaging methods. Second, by resolving absorption spectra at multiple wavelengths, it enables label-free 3D visualization of morphological and functional features. However, the relation of pulse energy to generated bandwidth and imaging depth remains poorly defined. In this paper, we apply computer models to investigate the optoacoustic frequency response generated by simulated skin. We relate our simulation results to experimental measurements of the detection bandwidth as a function of optical excitation energy in phantoms and human skin. Using raster-scan optoacoustic mesoscopy, we further compare the performance of two broadband ultrasonic detectors (a bandwidth of 20–180 and 10–90MHz) in acquiring optoacoustic readouts. Based on the findings of this paper, we propose energy ranges required for skin imaging with considerations of laser safety standards.
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