Through-skull fluorescence imaging of the brain in a new near-infrared window

Guosong Hong, Shuo Diao, Junlei Chang, Alexander L. Antaris, Changxin Chen, Bo Zhang, Su Zhao, Dmitriy N. Atochin, Paul L. Huang, Katrin I. Andreasson, Calvin J. Kuo, Hongjie Dai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

475 Citations (Scopus)


To date, brain imaging has largely relied on X-ray computed tomography and magnetic resonance angiography, with their limited spatial resolution and long scanning times. Fluorescence-based brain imaging in the visible and traditional near-infrared regions (400-900 nm) is an alternative, but at present it requires craniotomy, cranial windows and skull-thinning techniques, and the penetration depth is limited to 1-2 mm due to light scattering. Here, we report through-scalp and through-skull fluorescence imaging of mouse cerebral vasculature without craniotomy, utilizing the intrinsic photoluminescence of single-walled carbon nanotubes in the 1.3-1.4 μm near-infrared window (NIR-IIa window). Reduced photon scattering in this spectral region allows fluorescence imaging to a depth of >2 mm in mouse brain with sub-10-μm resolution. An imaging rate of ∼5.3 frames per second allows for dynamic recording of blood perfusion in the cerebral vessels with sufficient temporal resolution, providing real-time assessment of a blood flow anomaly in a mouse middle cerebral artery occlusion stroke model.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)723-730
Number of pages8
JournalNature Photonics
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics

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