Lipid deposition inside the arterial wall is a key indicator of plaque vulnerability. An intravascular photoacoustic (IVPA) catheter is considered a promising device for quantifying the amount of lipid inside the arterial wall. Thus far, IVPA systems suffered from slow imaging speed (∼50 s per frame) due to the lack of a suitable laser source for high-speed excitation of molecular overtone vibrations. Here, we report an improvement in IVPA imaging speed by two orders of magnitude, to 1.0 s per frame, enabled by a custom-built, 2-kHz master oscillator power amplifier (MOPA)-pumped, barium nitrite [Ba(NO3)2] Raman laser. This advancement narrows the gap in translating the IVPA technology to the clinical setting.
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