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BIOE Seminar - Dr. Junjie Yao - Breaking the Limits in Photoacoustic Imaging: Deeper, Smaller and More Colorful

Speaker Dr. Junjie Yao, Assistant Professor at the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Duke University
Date: 12/11/2019
Time: 12 p.m.
Location: 2310 Everitt Lab
Sponsor: Department of Bioengineering
Event Type: Seminar/Symposium


By physically combining electromagnetic and ultrasonic waves, photoacoustic imaging (PAI) has proven powerful for multi-scale anatomical, functional, and molecular imaging. In PAI, a short-pulsed laser beam illuminates the biological tissue to generate a small but rapid temperature rise, which leads to emission of ultrasonic waves due to thermoelastic expansion. The high-frequency ultrasonic waves are detected outside the tissue to form an image that maps the original optical energy deposition in the tissue. PAI seamlessly combines the rich optical absorption contrast of biological tissue with the high optically- or acoustically-determined spatial resolutions.

My talk will focus on three major technical new fronts of PAI developed in our group that have collectively enabled miniaturized, deep, and high-sensitivity biomedical applications in drug screening, early cancer detection, and neuronal imaging. First, PAI has broken the penetration limit and achieved super-deep (~10 cm) imaging by using advanced internal light delivery, extending its applications ready into internal organ imaging on large animals and even humans. Second, by using novel fabrication technologies in optics, acoustics and scanning, miniaturized photoacoustic microscopy has achieved handheld, wearable and head-mounted imaging of skin, brain, and organoids with high spatial–temporal resolutions and high throughput. Third, taking advantage of a variety of newly developed near-infrared photoacoustic-specific contrast agents, PAI has achieved high-sensitivity high-specificity imaging of malignant cancer, tissue hypoxia, and neuronal activities.



Dr. Junjie Yao is currently Assistant Professor at the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Duke University since 2016, and a faculty member of Duke Center for In Vivo Microscopy, Duke Cancer Institute, Duke Institute of Brain Sciences, and Fitzpatrick Institute for Photonics. Dr. Yao received his B.E. (2006) and M.E. (2008) degrees in Biomedical Engineering from Tsinghua University, and his Ph.D. degree in Biomedical Engineering at Washington University (2013) under the mentoring of Dr. Lihong Wang. Dr. Yao is the receipt of the 2019 IEEE Photonic Society Young Investigator Award. He serves on the editorial board in Scientific Reports, Quantitative Imaging in Medicine and Surgery, and Near-infrared and Laser Engineering. Dr. Yao has published more than 100 articles in peer-reviewed journals such as Nature Methods, Nature Medicine, Nature Biomedical Engineering, Nature Photonics, Nature Communication, PNAS, and PRL. Dr. Yao’s research interest is in photoacoustic tomography (PAT) technologies in life sciences, especially in functional brain imaging and early cancer detection. More about Dr. Yao’s research at

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