Sono-photoacoustic (SPA) activation lowers the threshold of phase-change contrast agents by timing a laser shot to coincide with the arrival of an acoustic wave at a region of interest. The combination of photothermal heating from optical absorption and negative pressure from the acoustic wave greatly reduces the droplet's combined vaporization threshold compared to using laser energy or acoustic energy alone. In previous studies, SPA imaging used a broadly illuminated optical pulse combined with plane wave acoustic pulses transmitted from a linear ultrasound array. Acoustic plane waves cover a wide lateral field of view, enabling direct visualization of the contrast agent distribution. In contrast, we demonstrate here that localized SPA activation is possible using electronically steered/focused ultrasound pulses. The focused SPA activation region is defined axially by the number of cycles in the acoustic pulse and laterally by the acoustic beam width. By reducing the spot size and enabling rapid electronic steering, complex activation patterns are possible, which may be particularly useful in therapeutic applications.
- Phase-change contrast agents