Depth-encoded synthetic aperture optical coherence tomography of biological tissues with extended focal depth

J. Mo, M. de Groot, J.F. de Boer

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Optical coherence tomography (OCT) has proven to be able to provide three-dimensional (3D) volumetric images of scattering biological tissues for in vivo medical diagnostics. Unlike conventional optical microscopy, its depth-resolving ability (axial resolution) is exclusively determined by the laser source and therefore invariant over the full imaging depth. In contrast, its transverse resolution is determined by the objective's numerical aperture and the wavelength which is only approximately maintained over twice the Rayleigh range. However, the prevailing laser sources for OCT allow image depths of more than 5 mm which is considerably longer than the Rayleigh range. This limits high transverse resolution imaging with OCT. Previously, we reported a novel method to extend the depth-of-focus (DOF) of OCT imaging in Mo et al. [Opt. Express 21, 10048 (2013)]. The approach is to create three different optical apertures via pupil segmentation with an annular phase plate. These three optical apertures produce three OCT images from the same sample, which are encoded to different depth positions in a single OCT B-scan. This allows for correcting the defocus-induced curvature of wave front in the pupil so as to improve the focus. As a consequence, the three images originating from those three optical apertures can be used to reconstruct a new image with an extended DOF. In this study, we successfully applied this method for the first time to both an artificial phantom and biological tissues over a four times larger depth range. The results demonstrate a significant DOF improvement, paving the way for 3D high resolution OCT imaging beyond the conventional Rayleigh range.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4935-4945
JournalOptics Express
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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