Abstract

Coherence-domain imaging systems can be operated in a single-photon-counting mode, offering low detector noise; this in turn leads to increased sensitivity for weak light sources and weakly reflecting samples. We have demonstrated that excellent axial resolution can be obtained in a photon-counting coherence-domain imaging (CDI) system that uses light generated via spontaneous parametric downconversion (SPDC) in a chirped periodically poled stoichiometric lithium tantalate (chirped-PPSLT) structure, in conjunction with a niobium nitride superconducting single-photon detector (SSPD). The bandwidth of the light generated via SPDC, as well as the bandwidth over which the SSPD is sensitive, can extend over a wavelength region that stretches from 700 to 1500nm. This ultrabroad wavelength band offers a near-ideal combination of deep penetration and ultrahigh axial resolution for the imaging of biological tissue. The generation of SPDC light of adjustable bandwidth in the vicinity of 1064nm, via the use of chirped-PPSLT structures, had not been previously achieved. To demonstrate the usefulness of this technique, we construct images for a hierarchy of samples of increasing complexity: a mirror, a nitrocellulose membrane, and a biological sample comprising onion-skin cells.

© 2009 Optical Society of America

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