Journal of Biomedical OpticsUltrasound-modulated fluorescence based on a fluorophore-quencher-labeled microbubble system
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Ultrasound-modulated fluorescence from a fluorophore-quencher-labeled microbubble system driven by a single ultrasound pulse was theoretically quantified by solving a modified Herring equation (for bubble oscillation), a two-energy-level rate equation (for fluorophore excitation), and a diffusion equation (for light propagation in tissue). The efficiency of quenching caused by fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) between the fluorophore and the quencher was modulated when the microbubble oscillates in size driven by the ultrasound pulse. Both intensity- and lifetime-based imaging methods are discussed in three different illumination modes of the excitation light: continuous wave (DC), frequency domain (FD), and time domain (TD). Results show that microbubble expansion opens a time period during which the quenching efficiency is dramatically reduced so that the emitted fluorescence strength and fluorophore lifetime are significantly increased. The modulation efficiency may even reach 100%. In addition, an important finding in this study is that in TD illumination mode, the modulated fluorescence photons may be temporally separated from the unmodulated photons, which makes the modulation efficiency limited only by thermal noise of the measurement system.