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Experimental design and numerical investigation of a photoacoustic sensor for a low-power, continuous-wave, laser-based frequency-domain photoacoustic microscopy

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posted on 2022-10-17, 21:24 authored by Krishnan Sathiyamoorthy, Michael KoliosMichael Kolios

We have developed a photoacoustic (PA) sensor using a low-power, continuous- wave laser and a kHz-range microphone. The sensor is simple, flexible, cost-effective, and compatible with commercial optical microscopes. The sensor enables noncontact PA measurements through air, whereas most current existing PA techniques require an acoustic coupling liquid for detection. The PA sensor has three main components: one is the chamber that holds the sample, the second is a resonator column used to amplify the weak PA signals generated within the sample chamber, and the third is a microphone at the end of the resonator column to detect the amplified signals. The chamber size was designed to be 8  mm  ×  3  mm as the thermal diffusion length and viscous-thermal damping of air at room pressure and temperature are 2 and 1 mm, respectively. We numerically and experimentally examined the effect of the resonator column size on the frequency response of the PA sensor. The quality factor decreased significantly when the sample chamber size was reduced from 4  mm  ×  3  mm to 2  mm  ×  3  mm due to thermos-viscous damping of the air. The quality factor decreased by 27%, demonstrating the need for optimal design for the sample chamber and resonator column size. The system exhibited noise equivalent molecular sensitivity (NEM) per unit bandwidth (NEM  /    √  Δf) of ∼19,966  Hz  −  1/2 or 33  ×  10  −  21  mol or 33 zeptomol, which is an improvement of 2.2 times compared to the previous system design. This PA sensor has the potential for noncontact high-resolution PA imaging of materials without the need for coupling fluids. 

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