A Fiber Optoacoustic Emitter with Maximized Conversion Efficiency and Controlled Ultrasound Frequency for Biomedical Applications
Focused ultrasound has attracted great attention in minimally invasive therapy, gene delivery, brain stimulation, etc. Frequency below 1 MHz has been identified preferable for high-efficacy drug delivery, gene transfection and neurostimulation due to minimized tissue heating and cell fragmentation. However, the poor spatial resolution of several millimeters and the large device diameter of ~25 mm of current sub-MHz ultrasound technology severely hinders its further applications for effective, precise, safe and wearable biomedical studies and clinical use. To address this issue, we report the development of a novel fiber-based optoacoustic emitter (FOE). The FOE, a new miniaturized ultrasound source, is composed of an optical diffusion coating layer and an expansion coating layer at an optical fiber distal end with a diameter of approximately 500 microns. Taking advantage of the fiber size and diffusive nanoparticles introduced, the ultrasound generated by the FOEs showed a spatial confinement of sub-millimeter. The optoacoustic conversion efficiency was maximized through choosing absorbing nanomaterials and thermal expansion matrix. Controllable frequencies in the range of 0.083 MHz to 5.500 MHz were achieved through using the diffusion layer as a damping material or modifying the nano-composition in the expansion layer. This sub-MHz frequency controllability allows FOEs to be used as a localized ultrasound source for precise cell modulation. We demonstrated optoacoustic cell membrane sonoporation with a localization of sub-millimeter and negligible heat deposition, implicating its broad biomedical applications, including region-specific drug delivery, gene transfection as well as localized neuron stimulation.