The increasing personalization of medical treatment demands refined imaging and increased monitoring capabilities, as well as an improved efficacy through targeted drug delivery. Such a transition in health care can be facilitated by the use of multimodal contrast agents. In this paper, we present a novel type of multimodal contrast agents, that enhances contrast both in ultrasound and in photoacoustic imaging, while at the same time being capable of triggered drug delivery. Upon pulsed laser irradiation, polymeric microparticles—containing a dye and an oil core—can create a cavitation bubble that subsequently emits a strong acoustic wave. We investigated different formulations of these particles, by changing the oil content, dye concentration and probing conditions using a combination of pulsed laser excitation and an ultrasound chirp. We demonstrated that capsules with a core containing a low boiling point oil give the highest photoacoustic and acoustic response. The laser activation threshold for this system is high in the visible range, but within the near infrared medical limits. The same system also produces a stable bubble. US scattering by these stable bubbles results in medically relevant frequencies, making the particles of interest for biomedical and pre-clinical imaging. Finally, the system has potential to carry a functional drug-load, and a route to these applications is discussed.

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Keywords photoacoustics, ultrasound, contrast agents, cavitation, polymeric microcapsules Supplementary material for this article is available
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Journal Physics in Medicine and Biology
Visscher, M., Lajoinie, G, Blazejewski, E., Veldhuis, G., & Versluis, M. (2019). Laser-activated microparticles for multimodal imaging: ultrasound and photoacoustics. Physics in Medicine and Biology, 64(3). doi:10.1088/1361-6560/aaf4a2