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Keywords:

  • Coherent supercontinuum generation;
  • biophotonics;
  • photonic crystal fibers;
  • photonic bandgap fibers;
  • soliton;
  • Cherenkov radiation;
  • pulse shaping

Abstract

Biophotonics and nonlinear fiber optics have traditionally been two independent fields. Since the discovery of fiber-based supercontinuum generation in 1999, biophotonics applications employing incoherent light have experienced a large impact from nonlinear fiber optics, primarily because of the access to a wide range of wavelengths and a uniform spatial profile afforded by fiber supercontinuum. However, biophotonics applications employing coherent light have not benefited from the most well-known techniques of supercontinuum generation for reasons such as poor coherence (or high noise), insufficient controllability, and inadequate portability. Fortunately, a few key techniques involving nonlinear fiber optics and femtosecond laser development have emerged to overcome these critical limitations. Despite their relative independence, these techniques are the focus of this review, because they can be integrated into a low-cost portable biophotonics source platform. This platform can be shared across many different areas of research in biophotonics, enabling new applications such as point-of-care coherent optical biomedical imaging.